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Occupational safety and health

Field concerned with the safety, health and welfare of people at work / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Occupational safety and health (OSH) or occupational health and safety (OHS), also known simply as occupational health or occupational safety,[lower-alpha 1] is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the safety, health, and welfare of people at work (i.e. in an occupation). These terms also refer to the goals of this field,[1] so their use in the sense of this article was originally an abbreviation of occupational safety and health program/department etc. OSH is related to the fields of occupational medicine and occupational hygiene.

This painting depicts a woman examining her work on a lathe at a factory in Britain during World War II. Her eyes are not protected. Today, such practice would not be permitted in most industrialized countries that adhere to occupational health and safety standards for workers. In many countries, however, such standards are still either nonexistent or poorly enforced.

The goal of an occupational safety and health program is to foster a safe and healthy occupational environment.[2][3] OSH also protects all the general public who may be affected by the occupational environment.[4]

According to the official estimates of the United Nations, the WHO/ILO Joint Estimate of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury, almost 2 million people die each year attributable to exposure to occupational risk factors.[5] Globally, more than 2.78 million people die annually as a result of workplace-related accidents or diseases, corresponding to one death every fifteen seconds. There are an additional 374 million non-fatal work-related injuries annually. It is estimated that the economic burden of occupational-related injury and death is nearly four per cent of the global gross domestic product each year.[6] The human cost of this adversity is enormous.

In common-law jurisdictions, employers have the common law duty (also called duty of care) to take reasonable care of the safety of their employees.[7] Statute law may, in addition, impose other general duties, introduce specific duties, and create government bodies with powers to regulate occupational safety issues: details of this vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.