Risk is something that each of us is exposed to every day of our lives and it intrudes on us as soon as we wake up in the morning. We head to the kitchen, put on a pot of coffee and assume the risk of using the electrical outlet or range, the coffee pot, the coffee itself and even the water coming out of the tap. We make an unconscious assumption that each component is “safe” and that our contact with each of them will not result in death or serious physical harm.
Behind the scenes, though, engineers, manufacturers, and others have identified risks associated with each element of our morning coffee (e.g., contaminants, equipment design and installation) and attempted to implement appropriate controls to keep us safe. But, controls do not just magically appear; hard work and diligence go into their identification and implementation.
In the same way, employees go to work every day and fully expect at the end of the working day they will return home unharmed. Those employees have a right to expect that the risks associated with their day have been assessed and that appropriate controls have been identified and implemented to keep them safe.
In the workplace, the identification of risks and hazard controls are an important responsibility that primarily falls on the employer. A safe workplace isn’t achieved by luck. It requires commitment, planning, training and involvement from each and every person.
A recent article (infographic) in EHS Today identified the “world’s most dangerous jobs” and asked the question: “Are they worth it?”
As I looked over the EHS Today infographic, I was struck by the similarity behind the tasks each of those professions performs and those performed by public employees (state, county and local government agencies).
Public employees build and maintain buildings, roads and bridges (construction workers); use farm machinery, manage livestock and apply pesticides (agricultural workers); drive small and large trucks to carry cargo (truck drivers); install and maintain the electrical power lines (power workers); collect trash (refuse collectors); inspect mining and drilling operations (mining); install and maintain roofs on public buildings (roofers); fly airplanes and jets (aircraft pilots and flight engineers); operate and maintain fisheries, hatcheries and associated research facilities (fishers and related fishing workers); trim, fell, haul trees and chip brush (logging workers).
Public employees are exposed to very hazardous conditions as they work behind the scenes every day in communities across Ohio to manage programs and provide services to keep each and every one of us safe.
I manage the BWC Public Employment Risk Reduction Program (PERRP), which helps Ohio public employers identify risks in their workplaces and determine reasonable methods of reducing those risks. PERRP’s role is to ensure safe working conditions for Ohio’s public employees by adopting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. We are here to help, just ask!
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace multiple hospitalization accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to public employees, call PERRP’s toll-free hotline at 800-671-6858 or send us an email at PERRPRequests@bwc.state.oh.us.