In workplace health and safety, sure and steady wins the race
Oregon OSHA Administrator
Preventing workplace injury, illness, and death is good business."
Few of us are attracted by the notion of being the tortoise. But the classic fable of the tortoise and the hare offers an important reminder to all of us who work to make Oregon a safer place to work. While the occasional flashy initiatives or events have their place, it is the day-to-day work of finding and fixing hazards, of developing job hazard analyses, and of plugging away at workplace culture that will truly make the difference in the lives of those we seek to protect.
Each year, those of us in public service have the opportunity to acknowledge our co-workers who have reached certain benchmarks. Here at Oregon OSHA, we recognize employees each year who have worked for the state for five, 10, 15, 20, and sometimes even 30 years or more. And we always take a few moments to remind ourselves that it is that day-to-day work that really matters. Whether the work they do is on-site consultation, outreach, providing technical guidance, answering telephones, enforcing workplace health and safety rules, or any of the other wide-ranging tasks that are part of the reason for our success as an organization, it is the day-to-day work that makes a difference. And that is true throughout the broader workplace health and safety community.
It is rare that we truly get to see the positive impact of the work we do every day. We do not know exactly which injuries we prevented today. But we know they are there. We do not know exactly which employees did not begin the march toward a serious occupational illness this week because of our efforts. But we know that they are there. And we do not know which workers avoided death in the workplace during the past month because of a visit we made a year ago. But we know that someone did. We keep plugging away, steadily tackling the risks that we know can cause serious injury, illness, and death, because the work is important. It generally isn’t glamorous, it’s sometimes not even much fun. But it’s important.
That’s what keeps those of us at Oregon OSHA coming to work day in and day out. And we know that’s what keeps many of the rest of you coming to work day in and day out as well. And that’s where we all know that we make the greatest difference.
Because sure and steady truly does win races. At least the ones that matter.