OSHA, Industry Groups Band Together for NAOSH Week

OSHA, in conjunction with the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers (CSSE), kicked off North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week on May 1 with efforts to bring attention to a vulnerable demographic within the work force: young workers.

The event showcased posters created by the winners and runners-up of the ASSE Kids Safety Poster Contest, submitted by the children and grandchildren of ASSE members. The children were on hand for the event and were recognized by OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke, ASSE President Jack Dobson and CSSE Secretary Art Nordhom for their creativeness in displaying their knowledge of the importance of workplace safety.

We can learn a few things from our children, said Foulke, who is beginning his fifth week as assistant secretary of labor for OSHA.

Foulke emphasized how NAOSH week, held each May, is a perfect opportunity to shift the focus onto young workers who are the most vulnerable members of the work force as many will start their first jobs this summer. Dobson expressed concern that many of these young workers are not as sensitive to risks associated with certain jobs as they should be.

It is vitally important that we get this information [about workplace risks] out and into the hands of the folks that need it, such as young workers, Dobson said.

The NAOSH week activities also complement OSHA's recent Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign, which was kicked off April 6. (See article: "Foulke's First Task: Kick Off Teen Job Safety Initiative.") This is a multi-year project to increase awareness about workplace hazards and provide possible solutions to those hazards, for young workers and their parents.

Nordhom stated that Canada has had a safety and health week for 20 years and emphasized that all organizations in North America can work as agents to advance change in making sure that all workers come home safe each and every night.

Foulke, Dobson: It Pays to Invest

The costs involved in various industries where companies are not implementing effective safety practices for their workers were addressed as part of NAOSH Week. According to OSHA, $170 billion per year in total costs have been spent as a result of workplace injuries and illnesses in the United States, which was equivalent to one-quarter of pre-tax profits for a company for the year. If a company were to implement an adequate safety program, they would save $4 to $6 for every $1 spent.

It pays to invest in safety and health in the workplace, Foulke said. A comprehensive safety and health program will increase employee morale, as well as enhance a companys reputation and its productivity.

According to Dobson, companies that dont embrace workplace safety will only drain the economy. Businesses must embrace workplace safety as part of their mission and as a key corporate value, he said.

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