What is OHS – OHS is an acronym with full meaning (Occupational health and safety).
OHS is a multidisciplinary practice dealing with all aspects of health and safety in the workplace, with a strong focus on preventing workplace accidents.
The OHS standards make it possible for workers to be able to carry out their responsibilities in a safe and secure working environment, free from hazards.
OHS includes the laws, standards, and programs that are aimed at making the workplace better for workers, along with co-workers, family members, customers, and other stakeholders. It also ensure good business, a better brand image, and higher employee morale.
OHS is concerned with addressing many types of workplace hazards, such like:
- Physical hazards
- Biological agents
- Chemicals hazards
- Ergonomic hazards
- Psychological hazards, etc.
OHS as a Discipline
OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) is the field of public health that studies trends in illnesses and injuries in the worker population and proposes and implements strategies and regulations to prevent them. Its scope is broad, encompassing a wide variety of disciplines, from toxicology and epidemiology to ergonomics and violence prevention.
History of OHS
Source – Wikipedia
The idea that workplaces in the United States should be required to adhere to a minimum set of safety and health standards isn’t all that controversial—but it wasn’t always that way.
Working conditions for the average American have improved in fits and starts over the last 150 years, with major economy-altering safety legislation passed and a steady stream of various lesser regulations enacted under both major U.S. political parties in recent decades.
In the wake of the Civil War, factories started to crop up all across the United States. Often staffed by young, highly inexperienced workers, the factories were perilous places to work.
Stories compiled in an 1872 report by the state of Massachusetts’ Bureau of Labor detailed many grisly incidents where workers lost limbs or were killed due to inadequate equipment and physically demanding tasks.
In addition to the dangerous equipment and machines, the facilities were dirty and poorly ventilated. Opening windows would reportedly disrupt the materials inside the factories, so they remained closed, leaving workers to breathe in chemical fumes and accumulated dust day in and day out.
In response to the 1872 report and compiled statistics, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to require factory inspections that included verifying, among other things, fire exits were in place at each facility. Other states quickly followed suit. By 1890, 21 states had some kind of law in the books limiting health hazards in the workplace.
While these efforts were a step in the right direction, it was a messy assortment of laws and regulations. Rules differed from state to state and weren’t always enforced.
States with more relaxed policies attracted businesses away from stricter states, and a push was made to scale back regulations. A back and forth progression began as the public demanded stricter laws and businesses fought to loosen them.
The piecemeal assortment of regulations finally came to a head in December of 1970 when then-President Richard Nixon signed into law the Occupational Safety and Health Act, becoming the first far-reaching federal law to protect American workers.
The law gave the U.S. government authority to write and enforce safety and health standards for nearly all of the country’s workforce. Shortly after, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established to oversee the implementation of the new law.
Improvements and additions to state and federal laws have been passed in the years since, expanding the role of occupational health and safety professionals and going further to ensure safe workspaces for all. Now, if you get injured on the job, you won’t go bankrupt thanks to workers’ compensation.
Legal recourse is available against negligent or unsafe employers. Inspection and oversight regimens help identify unsafe conditions. And modern data-driven workplace safety programs proactively identify risks and help employers tackle the underlying conditions that put workers in danger in the first place.
While it’s difficult to estimate the true impact of the law—we don’t have a lot of data on workplace safety from the pre-OSHA days—it’s estimated that the total number of workplace fatalities has decreased by more than 65%, despite dramatic increases in the country’s workforce.
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