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We talk about occupational health and safety all the time on this site. But a lot of the time, we don’t pause to do deeper thinking about what occupational health and safety actually means.
One of the best ways to find out what occupational health and safety means to you is to think about how you describe occupational health and safety. You see, the field is a broad umbrella with a lot of component parts. What you emphasize changes the tenor of your program and how your program approaches safety as a collective whole.
Here’s how you might describe occupational health and safety and why your means of description is so important.
If you’re looking for ways to describe occupational health and safety, a definition is one of the best places to start. The trick, of course, is that a lot of definitions have different parameters, based on the understanding of the one doing the defining.
For example, one definition of occupational health and safety says it’s a field of public health studying trends in illness and injuries in the worker population in order to propose and implement strategies to prevent them.
A broader definition from Safeopedia states that occupational health and safety relates to health, safety, and welfare issues in the workplace and is concerned with the laws, programs, policies, and standards aimed at making the workplace better.
Bizfluent, by contrast, describes occupational health and safety as the right of every worker regardless of industry to carry out their work in a safe environment. This definition is more aligned with employer responsibilities stated in the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act of 1970, which states it is an employer’s obligation to provide a workplace reasonably free of recognized hazards.
As you can see, these definitions each have a slightly different focus. The elements they emphasize translates to a slightly different understanding of occupational health and safety.
You see, the way in which you describe occupational health and safety changes the way you think about occupational health and safety. If you think of it under the first definition (a field of public health studying trends in illnesses and injuries) it’s easy to think of occupational health and safety in statistical terms. Occupational safety is tied into statistics, as EHS professionals are responsible for identifying evolving trends in order to counter them.
On the other hand, if you use the second definition of occupational health and safety, you get into the more positive aspects of health and safety, like promoting good health behaviors among workers.
It’s all about emphasis and what individual elements your workplace chooses to pull forward.
The ways in which you describe occupational health and safety have practical implications for your EHS program. One of the major areas of impact is how your program teaches safety to your workers.
When it comes time to translate safety to your workers, we’re here to ensure nothing gets lost in translation with safety training software that makes it easy to teach concepts that will save lives. Want to see our software in action? Get in touch today to learn more.
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