Posted On: October 28, 2012 by YourWritingTeam
Category: Commentary Environment Featured Politics Real Estate Technology
In the US and other developed countries the thought of dying on the job or being seriously injured disappeared decades ago. Most people go to work every day, never thinking about whether or not they will be able to come safely home. There are the standard jobs people associate with being high risk like a police officer or a fire fighter but in general most workers and their families just assume they are safe. Unfortunately that assumption is wrong. According to the United States Department of Labor in 2010 4,690 workers were killed on the job. Legislation has been developed to prevent workplace injuries but as those families will attest – it is simply not enough. Attorney Frank Jenkins said that in Kentucky alone, where he practices, there are over 30,000 claims of workplace injuries every year. Throughout the country the numbers are staggering as workers get injured every single day.
ABC news reported on a worker that died while working at Cintas. The company is one of the largest uniform providers throughout the US. They pick up uniforms, wash them, and return them ready to use. This service is widely used throughout the restaurant and hospitality industries. The worker, Eleazer Torres Gomez, died while he was trying to unclog a jam in the laundry. He fell off a conveyor belt and into an industrial dryer. His story should raise alarms as to workplace safety issues. The company said he violated safety policies but there is a difference between policies put on paper and what actually happens on the job every day. Managers and supervisors, wanting to finish the job quickly, will often turn a blind eye to worker safety issues. The continued practice of turning away creates situations where workers are in great jeopardy.
Another area where workers are in great danger is when they work on the oil fields. There are more workplace accidents in the oil and gas industry than any other in the US. Workers are not only hurt on the job but a rising number have been hurt in car accidents after leaving work. They are often required to work more than 12 hours then drive home over large amounts of terrain. Driving fatigued is just as dangerous as driving drunk and many families have lost husbands and fathers due to these car accidents. Employers need to look at workplace safety beyond the policies and into how they impact workers coming and going from the job site as well. Simple changes like providing employee shuttles would help to keep workers safe.
Employers need to take keeping workers safe seriously. Workers that are in hazardous situations need to demand that protections be put in place. That can be hard for working families that need the income and are concerned about the fall out from complaining. The Department of Labor is in place to assist and protect workers. If you are at risk contact them, give an anonymous tip and let the DOL investigate for you.
“Every day in America, 13 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, nearly 4 million people suffer a workplace injury from which some may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy. American workers are not looking for a handout or a free lunch. They are looking for a good day’s pay for a hard day’s work. They just want to go to work, provide for their families, and get home in one piece.”
– Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Workers Memorial Day speech April 26, 2012