Improving Workplace Safety

Every day, 14 workers die and every year, more than 4 million are seriously injured or made ill by exposure to toxic agents, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). What can be done to improve those lamentable numbers? 

In a recently released report called “Lessons Learned, Solutions for Workplace Safety and Health,” the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell offers some different responses. 

As the report noted, “Our research has led to the conclusion that the most effective reforms will come through preventive redesign of workplaces, work processes, and products and not simply tighter regulation of the current way of doing business.” 

Through case studies, the Lowell Center, a Public Welfare Foundation grantee, examined six areas of workplace safety and health policies and practices to illustrate how preventive measures and more focused regulation can help protect workers better. 

The report gives details about efforts in Massachusetts to protect immigrant laborers from exposure to highly flammable floor finishing chemicals and attempts to lower the number of serious injuries suffered by workers in meat and poultry plants, among other examples.  

The Center’s recommended solutions include a national rule that would require each employer to develop, implement and regularly evaluate a workplace safety and health prevention program and significantly expanded efforts to reduce communication, legal and cultural barriers so that immigrant workers can understand and exercise their workplace rights.     

To see the full report, click here.


The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need. These efforts honor the Foundation’s core values of racial equity, economic well-being, and fundamental fairness for all. The Foundation looks for strategic points where its funds can make a significant difference and improve lives through policy and system reform that results in transformative change. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter or on Facebook.

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