Protecting Workers: The Government's Role in Workplace Safety

Last Updated: 

April 3, 2024

Workplace safety is a major concern in all industries and countries and governments do all they can to ensure a safe environment. Because a blooming industry means a blooming country, and that’s why governments need to take this seriously. Employers also play a crucial role in maintaining workplace safety by providing proper training and resources to their employees. Online platforms like OSHA Online Center offer convenient access to training courses and resources to help businesses and employees stay informed and compliant with safety regulations.

A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report suggests that there were more than 5.5k fatal accidents in workplaces in the previous year. According to OSHA, that is around 3.7 per 100,000 workers. So, how do governments ensure better safety and security?

What can they do to avoid fatal injuries? While also avoiding potential lawsuits, and ensuring a safer environment for the driving force of their economy—the workers. Let’s find out as we talk about what governments should do to protect workers.

Key Takeaways on How the Government Protects the Workplace:

  1. Government Mandate for Safety: Governments play a pivotal role in ensuring workplace safety through strict enforcement of labour laws, creating a secure environment for employees.
  2. Collaborative Responsibility: Workplace safety is a shared responsibility among employers, employees, and regulatory authorities, emphasising the need for a collective effort.
  3. Economic Benefits of Safety: Safer working environments contribute to reduced accidents, lower healthcare costs, and increased economic efficiency, promoting overall stability and growth.
  4. Worker Protection as a Human Right: Prioritising worker protection not only upholds basic human rights but also boosts employee morale, confidence, and productivity.
  5. Governmental Oversight with OSHA Programs: Governments can implement programs similar to OSHA, conducting inspections, providing training, and offering resources to identify and mitigate workplace hazards.
  6. Financial Stability Through Social Security: Offering social security benefits ensures financial stability for workers, providing access to essential services and promoting compliance with safety laws.
  7. Encouraging Safety Culture: Government regulations and programs, when effectively enforced, contribute to fostering a safety culture in workplaces, enhancing overall quality of life.
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What Is Workplace Safety?

Workplace safety simply means how a particular workplace or company takes measures to avoid occupational hazards and ensure workplace safety. This means providing training or equipment to workers to prevent injury, illness, and accidents in the workplace.

It includes various practices, protocols, and regulations aimed at creating a secure and healthy work environment for employees. Usually, these rules and regulations are governed by local/regional governments. This includes:

  • Identifying and mitigating potential hazards;
  • Providing appropriate safety equipment and training;
  • Maintaining proper ergonomics;
  • And promoting a culture of safety awareness among workers.

The training to ensure workplace safety isn’t always provided by in-house departments, even though they are encouraged. Usually, a third party is hired to provide this training. In cases of workplaces in the United States, OSHA or OSHA-certified trainers provide said exercises.

These exercises include caution in potentially hazardous environments, proper use of safety ethics and equipment, as well as managing or dealing with potential injuries. So, workplace safety not only protects employees from harm but also enhances productivity and morale within the organisation. Effective hazard communication is a crucial aspect of workplace safety, ensuring that employees are informed about potential risks and how to mitigate them, thus fostering a culture of safety awareness and preparedness.

It is a shared responsibility between employers, employees, and regulatory authorities to ensure that workplaces are safe and free from risks that could jeopardise the well-being of workers.

And that’s why governments play a vital role in all this. They can create one or various organisations that oversee such matters and ensure a safe environment for workers.

Why Should Governments Ensure Worker Protection In Industries?

The benefits of safer working environments aren’t just limited to workplaces or industries. In fact, it’s for the good of a whole nation if workplaces are safe, and workers are provided security on a government level. This could be done through various programs, but we’ll talk about those later.

For now, it’s important to understand that governments should ensure worker protection in industries to safeguard the well-being of citizens and promote a healthy economy. Because governments can prevent workplace accidents and illnesses and reduce human suffering and medical costs.

So, five key benefits of government-implemented workplace safety include:

  1. Reduced workplace accidents and injuries.
  2. Enhanced employee morale and productivity.
  3. Lower healthcare and insurance costs.
  4. Improved retention and recruitment rates.
  5. Increased overall economic efficiency and stability.

Worker protection doesn’t only secure them against potential occupational hazards but also boosts employee morale and productivity. Besides morale, it also ensures that workers have confidence in their workplaces and in their professions.

Furthermore, a safe and healthy workforce reduces absenteeism and disability claims, saving businesses and governments substantial expenses. That’s why prioritising worker protection not only upholds basic human rights but also enhances economic stability and growth.

4 Things Governments Do To Protect Workers

Governments can enforce a variety of laws and regulations to ensure workplace safety for the common labourer. There are plenty of governments around the world who ensure strict laws, and in the United States, OSHA oversees such factors.

But here are some of the key things governments, regional and federal, can do to ensure worker safety:

1: Enforce Labour Laws

Governments enforce labour laws through inspections, penalties for non-compliance, and legal recourse for workers. This involves setting standards for wages, working hours, and safety conditions.

Besides that, regular monitoring also guarantees abidance to these regulations. It doesn’t only secure workers' rights but also promotes fair treatment in the workplace. This effective enforcement promotes an encouraging environment where workers feel secure and valued.

2: Provide Workplace Safety Regulations

All authorities and governments need to ensure safety regulations to mitigate workplace hazards. And it can not only provide the aforementioned benefits but also drive the economy. And they can easily do that by making such laws, including:

  • Setting standards for equipment;
  • Training for workers and supervisors;
  • And emergency procedures.

Inspections will guarantee compliance, with penalties for violations. By mandating safety protocols, governments also secure workers from accidents and illnesses. Besides, these regulations also endorse accountability among employers, ensuring the well-being of their employees.

3: Implement OSHA/Safety Programs

Local or regional governments in the United States implement Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) programs to enforce safety standards. This involves conducting workplace inspections, providing training, and offering resources for employers and employees.

OSHA programs focus on identifying and mitigating workplace hazards. And, in most states in the USA, the two main courses provided to workers include:

  • OSHA 30-hour, for supervisors and managers.
  • OSHA 10-hour for workers.

Other governments can follow this method and provide similar training to workers.

4: Offer Social Security Benefits

Authorities can social security benefits such as retirement pensions, disability insurance, and healthcare coverage. These benefits won’t only ensure financial stability but also access to essential services for workers and their families during times of need.

And by offering social security programs, governments mitigate economic hardships. Besides that, they can promote social welfare, and enhance the overall quality of life for workers across various sectors. This will also promote willingness to comply with safety laws among workers.

Conclusion

These are some of the top tactics that governments and other authorities can use to ensure workplace safety. Now it also falls upon workplaces and industries to implement specific rules. However, government-level implementation and regulations can ensure a safety culture in workplaces. And these are some of the best ways to do it.

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