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The Health and Safety Act, also known as HASAW or HSW, is a law enacted by Congress that mandates all employers to ensure the health and safety of their workers while they are at work (Clarke 14). An employee should be disease-free and have a sense of physical, emotional, and social well-being. The Act is critical in the workplace because it helps to reduce workplace injury, fatalities, and deaths. It is the employer's obligation to recognize real and possible risks and work on risk prevention. It is also the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the ventilation, lighting, and washing facilities meet the standards of health and safety required by regulatory bodies. Providing employees with information and trainings on how to deal with emergencies is also the responsibility of the employer. However, it is the duty of the employee to participate fully in the training workshops and adhere to the employer’s health and safety policies (Robson et al. 195). A workplace injury can cause long-term effects on an individual, family, community, and friends. Occupational injuries and deaths cause immeasurable losses to the families in which they occur. Despite the regulations put in place, some employers still neglect their responsibility to ensure safety at the workplace, thus resulting in injuries and deaths in the place of work.
A healthy workforce means safe and more productive personnel; however, it is unfortunate that most workers are not provided with conditions that ensure their safety and health. White-collar jobs are performed in an office cubicle or administrative setting while blue-collar jobs require manual labor. Blue-collar workers are paid on hourly basis; the term blue collar is coined from the fact that most manual laborers wear blue shirts. There is a varying level of risk for workers in the blue-collar jobs and those in white-collar jobs. The nature of many blue-collar jobs exposes the workers to more risk than those with white collar occupations. A report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that workers in the service and blue-collar industries are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease or stroke (Smith). The food service industry was among the industries with the highest prevalence rates. Do the blue-collar workers, therefore, have high occupational injury and illnesses rates than the white-collar workers? It is evident that workers with blue jobs are more exposed to occupational risks than those with white-collar jobs. The aim of this paper is to provide evidence of the mentioned argument.
Research has shown that the health of blue-collar workers at the workforce is worse than that of white-collar workers. Employed white-collar workers have less serious illnesses compared to the blue-collar employees. A survey revealed that fifty eight percent of blue-collar families have a family member who has incurred an injury at the workplace (Smith). On the other hand, only thirty-eight percent of white-collar families reported to have a family member who incurred an injury at work (Smith). Research also shows that an average blue-collar worker is more likely to be injured at work unlike a white-collar worker who believes that there is little or no chance of that happening. Workers in the fast food industry belong to the blue jobs category. A campaign carried out in 2010 revealed that employees worked in unsafe environments where they suffered serious burns while doing the most basic tasks such as removing food from the microwave and transferring hot oil (Clarke 15). A risk assessment concluded that some of the risks associated with working in the fast food industry included lacerations, burns, electric hazards, manual tasks, fatigue, slips, trips, and falls. The manual nature of the job may require the worker to use force to carry, push or pull an object; the process often causes an injury. In the book, fast food nation, the writer highlights the plight of Latino meatpacking workers. The meatpacking companies fail to report or underreport injuries incurred by workers for fear of compensating them (Schlosser). The policy of exempting companies from scheduled inspections based on injury record exacerbates the issues since the companies are left to self-regulate. By 1999, the injury and illness rate in the meatpacking industry was 26.7 per 100 workers; in some plants, half of the employees may be hurt each year and the incidences go unreported (Schlosser). Despite the mechanization of the poultry industry, it has one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses. The numbers are mostly attributed to the speed of the production line and the repetitive nature of the job.
Blue-collar job workers are paid on hourly basis, and; therefore, strive to work for longer hours to make more money. By working longer, the workers are exposed to stress and fatigue; the situation naturally puts them at more risk of injuries and illnesses (“Statistics Canada”). Workers with regular daytime schedules are significantly at low risk of injury compared to those who work long hours. Employees whose job schedules involve shifts are at higher risk of occupational injury than workers with regular schedules. The fatigue that the workers experience may lead to clumsiness when operating equipment, thus leading to accidents, injuries, and exposure to harmful chemicals. Most blue-collar workers lack formal education, and; therefore, lack the knowledge on how to go about getting compensation for injuries incurred at the workplace. The education gap between blue-collar and white-collar workers means that the prevalence rates of injuries would be higher among the blue-collar employees. Despite the high prevalence rates of injuries among the blue-collar workers, most of them do not understand the Workplace Health and Safety Act that is meant to protect them (Smith). Twenty five percent of the workers believed that work related injuries medical costs would be covered by medical insurance while five percent thought that they had to pay for their medical bills (Smith). Most blue-collar jobs are temporary; therefore, the workers live in constant fear of losing their jobs. The situation means that the workers would be reluctant to ask for safety equipment to perform their duties, demand for training on safety measures or even claim compensation for on-job injuries. A research carried out in Canada revealed that workers with less income were at higher risk of getting injured while at work than those with high incomes; low income is a characteristic of blue-collar jobs with some of the workers earning less than the minimum wage (“Statistics Canada”). Blue-collar employees often work more than one job; the likelihood of a worker being injured at work increases if they work more than one job (“Statistics Canada”).
Despite the increased focus on health and safety reforms in high-riskindustries, it is important to remember that white-collar workers are equally exposed to some risks. Some of the hazards likely to arise for workers in white collar jobs include stress, bullying, fatigue, and occupational overuse syndrome (Robson et al. 195). The occupational risks have significant effects on workers’ physical and mental well-being. Work related stress may occur in poorly organized work spaces or if the company imposes unreasonable demands on the workers. Therefore, employers should seek to eliminate stressors and strive to provide a healthy environment for its workers (Clarke 16). Bullying is prevalent at the workplace and the employers should ensure that policies are put in place to enable workers channel their complaints. Occupational overuse syndrome is a range of injuries characterized by discomfort or pain. The injuries are caused by faulty or inappropriate workers’ equipment, excessive workloads, and insufficient time for rest.
In summation, the paper has successfully proved that blue-collar workers were at higher risk of occupational injuries and illnesses than white-collar workers. The health and safety Act is a bill of the Congress that requires all employers to ensure that the health and safety of their employees while at work. The Act is significant to both the employer and employee since it helps in reducing injuries, accidents, and deaths at the workplace. Despite the rules put in place, some employers still neglect their duty to ensure safety at the places of work, thus resulting in injuries and deaths at the work place. The paper established that there was a varying level of risk for occupational injuries to happen between white-collar and blue-collar workers. A report by the Center for Disease Control and prevention indicates that (CDC) indicates that workers in the service and blue-collar industries are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease or stroke. A survey revealed that fifty eight percent of blue-collar families have a family member who has incurred an injury at the workplace while only thirty-eight percent of white-collar families reported to have a family member who incurred an injury at work. Workers in the fast food industry belong to the blue-collar jobs category; a campaign carried out in 2010 revealed that workers in the industry worked in the most unsafe environments making them susceptible to injuries at the workplace. The book, Fast Food Nation highlights the plight of Latino meatpackers who work in companies where they are treated inhumanely putting them at risk of occupational injuries. Half of the workers in these meat-packaging plants are injured in one year; the statistics the writer puts forward are alarming. The long hours, low pay, and temporary nature of the blue-collar jobs places the workers at risk of occupational injuries. A research carried out in Canada revealed that workers with less income were at higher risk of being injured while at work than those with high incomes; low income is a characteristic of blue-collar jobs with some of the workers earning less than the minimum wage. Despite the increased focus on health and safety reforms in high-risk industries, it is important to remember that white-collar workers are equally exposed to some risks. Some of the occupational risks likely to arise for workers in white-collar jobs include stress, bullying, fatigue, and occupational overuse syndrome. The evidence and statistics put forward in the paper clearly highlight the disparity between the two job groups that puts the blue-collar workers more at risk than white-collar workers. It is imperative to educate the workers on how the system that protects them works; such will make it easier to protect and maintain their well-being.
"Statistics Canada."Statistics Canada, 2017. Web.
Clarke, Sharon. Occupational Health and Safety.CRC Press, 2016. Print.
Robson, Lynda S., et al. "A systematic review of the effectiveness of occupational health and safety training." Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health (2012): 193-208.
Schlosser, Eric. Fast food nation: The dark side of the all-American meal.Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
Smith, Sandy. "Study Finds Blue Collar Workers Expect To Be Injured On The Job." EHS Today, 2017.Web.
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