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Safety and politics: The results

September 7, 2012

A few weeks ago I drew attention to a Safety+Health poll that asked whether or not occupational safety and health should play a larger role in national politics. Here’s how you responded:

Occupational safety and health is not a hot topic on the campaign trail. Do you think it should be more prominent in national politics?
Yes 51%
No 49%

I’m a bit surprised by these results. I figured a larger portion of our readers – most of whom are invested in occupational safety and health issues – would call for more attention to this issue. Instead, it’s almost split right down the middle.

In the reader comments on the question, some of the respondents against moving workplace safety into a more national spotlight alluded to today’s entrenched politics doing more harm than good.

“The further away safety and health are from ‘politics,’ the better,” one respondent said. “Once it becomes a political issue, right or wrong, there may be polarization with inevitable setbacks.”

This makes sense. Often in politics, the conversation turns away from substance to irrelevant surface issues, and presumably we wouldn’t want such conversations regarding occupational safety and health devolving into partisan fights. (Discussions on making workplaces safer have too often gone down this path, however.)

But some “no” responses confused me. Several commenters suggested occupational safety and health was “not really a big issue” and that other topics were more important.

I don’t buy this. Occupational safety affects essentially everyone in this country because most people have a job, rely on someone who has a job, or care about someone who works.

The health of our economy is very important, yes, but so is the health of our workers. When workers are injured or killed, we as a nation must pay a steep societal cost.

As one “yes” responder put it: “The health and safety of our people, our nation’s most precious resource, should always be a critical item.”

The opinions expressed in "Washington Wire" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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