There has been a concerted effort from across US society to improve workplace health and safety. This shift has been crowned by the White house-issued executive order mandating a wide range of new protections for workers under existing legislation. A marked departure from previous efforts to only do the bare minimum to protect workers, this is enabling legal recourse to justice and also giving the nudge to employers to do a little bit extra to protect and, indeed, improve the health of workers.
Protection for workers comes from two main sources. The first is via OSHA, the governmental body which prosecutes companies when they do not fully protect workers. Punishments can arise for a number of risk violations, and the rules are becoming more expansive – KTVZ notes the adoption of heat level rules in Oregon, which mandates that employers provide respite from record-high summer heat. Backing up OSHA, and indeed holding OSHA to account, is the private legal system; legal experts JJS Justice note the critical work of litigation experts in ensuring that employers can receive justice under their constitutional and legal rights. Employee rights are being strengthened under both OSHA and private legal practice.
Strikes and rights
The protections of these employees are being shown in the action some are taking against their parent companies. Business Insider highlights the strike of employees at one McDonalds network in California in response to a failure to protect them from abusive customers. With the company set to respond, this is a clear indication as to the level of corporate responsibility expected of companies. For some, this has turned into a need to provide all-in health and safety initiatives.
For some businesses, health, safety and wellbeing are being promoted as a key focus. CNBC outlines the efforts being made by Amazon in their goal of reducing employee injuries by 50%. A $300m plan is being established to not only reduce physical injury at work, but to improve mental wellbeing among employees who are often overworked. In turn, this can reduce the incidence rate of other illnesses, and improve the overall happiness and health of employees.
If more companies can take a genuine and concerted interest in wellbeing akin to this, then employees will be in a better place. With higher levels of governmental protection and a general societal view of improving employee welfare, this is good news for the future of workplace health and safety.