At the height of the Industrial Revolution (late 1800’s) employers were requiring employees to work 12 hour shifts or longer, 7 days a week, at wages that allowed them to merely scrape by. Employees as young as 5 and 6 years old were working the mills, factories, and mines all across the country. They were not allowed any breaks and were regularly exposed to extremely unsafe working conditions with little access to fresh air. The facilities were poorly managed and unsanitary. Most did not even offer any sort of accommodations such as bathrooms or even outhouses.
Labor unions soon became prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. The Unions success would soon lead to the first observation of Labor Day (September 5th 1882) by the Central Labor Union of New York, but it would not become a federal holiday until 1894.
Many of the strikes turned violent. The worst and probably the most infamous was the Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. About 8 years later several more workers were killed at the hands of the U.S. Military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike.
This would be the final straw for President Grover Cleveland. He rushed to put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress and signed into law immediately after , ended.
Since then the U.S. Government has put several policies into action not only to make the workplace fair but also to make it safer so that the lively hood of hard working Americans would never be threatened again.
One of the ways our government has done this was by creating a new agency under the U.S. Department of Labor called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).This was called the OSHA Act of 1973 signed by President Richard Nixon.
OSHA’s primary objective is to create a safe work environment for America’s workers. OSHA achieves this by placing rules and regulations for businesses to follow. Examples of such requirements would be:
• Guards on moving parts
• Use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
• Lockout-Tagout procedures
• Hazard Communication development
• Various Electrical Safety procedures
• Permissible Exposure Limits
• Mandatory Employee Training
This is only a few of OSHA’s requirements. There are several more requirements that business owners should be aware of. Go to www.osha.gov to find out what all is required for your business to be in compliance.
A good place to start, when getting in compliance, is on areas that pose the biggest threat to you and your co-workers.
One of the most dangerous and most common hazards in the work place is electric shock and electrical arc flash. Electrical related accidents are one of the most common hazards in today’s industry. Every business relies on electricity in order to function. Therefore the threat of electric shock and electrical arc blasts is common in every business around the world.
An arc flash fatality occurs once every 28 hours in the United States alone. Learn the risks and regulations associated with electricity and get the proper training for your staff so that accidents can be easily avoided. Do it for yourself, for your business, and most importantly for your co-workers or employees.
Make the month we celebrate Labor Day the month you become more pro-active about creating a safe work environment. Call ITU today Toll Free for more information! 855-ARCFLASH