It is in our lives, even if we don’t realize it. Occupational Health and Safety is not just a Canadian institution, it exists worldwide and it is responsible for saving tens of thousands of lives since it was created. From agriculture and industrial sectors, to service and healthcare sectors, it keeps us safe on the job, and allows us to return home to our families each day.
Occupational Health and Safety dates back to roughly 1833, when HM Factory Inspectorate was formed in the United Kingdom with the expressed mission to inspect factories and make sure that child workers were not injured on the job. Seven years later, a Royal Commission found that the workers in the British mining industry were working in horrible conditions. This resulted in public outcry and the creation of the Mines Act of 1842, which helped to make the mines safer. In 1884, the first worker’s compensation law was put into force in Germany by Otto Von Bismarck.
From those early years, various organizations would work hard to keep workers safe, and they have done a very good job of it.
In the United Kingdom in 1974, 651 people died on the job, by 2012, only 171 died on the job. The rate of fatalities on the job also declined from 2.9 fatalities per 100,000 to .6 per 100,000 in that same period of time. In the United States, 14,000 workers were killed on the job in 1970. By 2010, despite the workforce being twice as large, workplace deaths were down by over 50 per cent. From 1913 to 2013, workplace deaths declined by 80 per cent.
In Canada, there are several provincial and federal labour codes to govern worker’s safety on the job. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, created in 1966, provides the fundamental right to a healthy and safe working environment for workers.
All these rules and organizations come together to keep everyone safe at the job.