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By Sen. Audrey Gibson

The word “safe” is generally associated with thoughts and feelings of comfort and protection. “Safety” on the other hand requires some sort of action to (manifest, create, and ensure) an environment of comfort and protection. In recent years, many companies have begun to become more safety conscious given injury to workers, and financial impact to business for loss time/productivity, increased insurance costs, and social implications for not implementing safety standards.

If only we couch potatoes, home gardeners, and DIY’ers (that’s “do it yourselfers” in case you do not!), would remember feeling safe at home includes safety, and not just the burglar alarm type. According to “Careful-A User’s Guide to Our Injury Prone Minds,” by Steve Casner (Riverhead Books, 2017), fifty percent of fatalities in the home are not the result of home invasion, rather, the unfortunate fact of not implementing safety inspections at home. For every 100,000 killed people in the US, nearly 43 % perished as a result of unintended injuries while not at work. 2.9% percent of fatalities occurred at work where most of us spend 35% of our time.

Home, where perhaps fifty percent of our time is spent, has a higher fatality rate though it’s a sanctuary of safety in our minds. The point: it is as important to be aware of safety issues at home as at work.

OSHA Standards

Over the years, safety in the workplace has garnered more and more and more attention with some safeguards added as a result of employee input either individually or through safety focused teams. The federal government has an entire agency dedicated to workplace safety, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, within the Department of Labor. The agency was created in 1970 by an act of Congress, “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women” through its’ enforcement powers and provision of education/training and outreach. Things like wearing safety glasses or hard hats for certain work are under the auspices of OSHA.

But there is no “home OSHA” and many times safety glasses don’t quite make it on the eyes while sawing a piece of wood or metal or working with chemicals at home. OSHA is likely the single most effective program for safer workplaces. Just as there are steps for safety at work, it is important to be mindful to take safety measures at home. Thinking you may know “a little something about something” should not substitute for reading labels, instructions, and taking recommended precautions. Not every project is for everyone; to keep you and your family safe at home, it may be necessary to get a trained-in-the-job-and-safety professional to do your project. As they say, “It’s better to stop for directions than to wonder where you went so wrong!”