Celebrating Safety on Labor Day

Loren Sweatt

Loren Sweatt

Labor Day honors the contributions of workers to our nation and celebrates the dignity of work. It is a day to reflect on how workplace conditions have improved over the course of our nation’s history, and to look ahead at what we can do to continue making workers’ lives better.

Many Americans work in industries where someone must always be on duty. Public safety, medicine, farmers, and many other occupations require someone to be working seven days a week and 365 days a year. Just as these jobs never take a day off, it is imperative we never give safety a day off. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is committed to ensuring every American worker is safe on the job.

America is experiencing near 50-year record low unemployment. Yet, worker injury and illness rates are still declining. We have more jobs and safer jobs. This shows the Trump Administration’s efforts are paying off. As the economy continues to thrive, the health and safety of America’s workers must remain a priority.

OSHA understands that working with both job creators and workers is the best way to achieve its mission. OSHA has resources to help employers and workers prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. Prevention saves lives, eliminates injuries, and even helps businesses save money.

We have one of the most successful compliance programs in the federal government in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) that invites employers to be recognized for prioritizing safety.  VPP brings employers, workers, and labor unions together to create a safety and health plan to exceed the minimum standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

At the same time, OSHA remains committed to strong safety and health enforcement for those employers who fail to take their responsibilities seriously. Full and fair enforcement is not just a means to keep employers in line; it also helps level the playing field for the many employers who are responsible and comply with the law. In 2017 and 2018, OSHA has performed more than 32,000 inspections, which is more inspections than were completed in 2016.

Much like 125 years ago, when Labor Day became a federal holiday, American jobs are rapidly changing. We are utilizing technology to create and enhance new industries and make the workplace safer. As our economy creates more opportunity, Americans are taking advantage of new opportunities for rapidly changing jobs and performing work they have never done before. This makes hazard identification and job safety training more important than ever. OSHA can help with this, too. 

OSHA’s free, confidential On-Site Consultation program is available to small businesses in every state. This program helps protect workers while saving employers, federal, and state governments billions of dollars by reducing lost time accidents and workers compensation costs. 

Safety must start on day one and be a continuous process. OSHA completed its "Safe + Sound 2019" campaign just a few weeks ago to highlight the importance of safety in every job. Safety and health plans should not sit on a shelf collecting dust. They must be implemented and consistently updated. OSHA is here to help employers and workers do just that.

In the spirit of Labor Day, we can all come together to reaffirm that individuals must be educated about hazard prevention, engaged in their workplace safety, and empowered to raise safety concerns without fear of retaliation. The goal has been and will continue to be to send America’s workforce to work and have each person come home safe and healthy.