Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Renew Emphasis on Education and Training

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Renew Emphasis on Education and Training

Article excerpt

Now is the time for safety and health professionals and all others who are concerned about controlling hazards in the workplace and the environment to put greater emphasis on safety education and training. Over the past 20-plus years, we have seen federal, state, and local governments demonstrate their concern for preventing workplace and environmental accidents, primarily by promulgating standards and then inspecting workplaces to see whether employers are in compliance. While it's true that OSHA and EPA standards have stimulated action to control hazards, there are still hundreds of hazardous situations which are not covered by standards and workplaces where cost-effective education and training has been virtually ignored.

The challenged we face today for occupational safety and health is that we must not only continue to meet standards, but must identify and control all risks and hazards. Most professionals agree that in order to create a safe and healthy workplace and environment, there are three fundamental requirements that must be met:

* Appropriate engineering design and control as the first line of defense;

* Enforcing meaningful standards;

* Educating and training all workers, managers, and, in some cases, the public.

Occupational safety and health is attained through application of the traditional three Es -- engineering, enforcement, and education. Many acknowledge that significant accomplishments have come about in the reduction of workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities through engineering design and control and enforcement of standards, but the fact is the third "E" -- education -- is sadly lacking.

That is not to say that NIOSH and OSHA have not stressed the education and training of professionals and compliance inspectors. However, because of their limited resources and their overriding interest in the promulgation and enforcement of standards, these two federal agencies, in sum, have made a disappointing effort toward education and training of employees, employers, and professionals.

Neither NIOSH nor OSHA has a system for directly educating and training the nation's employers and employees. In the past, some states have carried out reasonably good education and training programs, but most of these programs have also been substantially cut as state budgets have been trimmed. …

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