In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days, seven days a week and barely got by. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 were used in cheap labor in mills, factories and mines across the country, making just pennies on the dollar of adult wages.
These workers had no protections, and were often working in highly hazardous conditions where injuries were common, and disasters were expected.
The circumstances were dire and workers realized that as individuals they had no clout. Object, and they would lose their livelihood with someone ready and willing to step right in and take their place. Together, however, they had a chance.
Are You in A Safe Work Environment?
Without going into a history lesson, critics of Labor Day say it was created as a way to mollify workers who were organizing, staging walk outs, and going on strike for fair wages and a safe work environment. We have those workers to thank for paid vacation, child labor laws, and many of the benefits we now take for granted, including a nice three-day weekend at the end of the summer!
The dangers of the workplace then (think factory fires & locked doors!), bear little resemblance to the cubicles, courtyards, and cafeteria of our modern office buildings. That doesn’t mean there’s no risk, however. It’s just that the risks have changed.
So in the spirit of Labor Day, I ask you to consider – do you feel safe at work?
What Safe at Work Looks Like
Safe at work today means:
- You are free to advance in your career regardless of your gender, race, religion, or nationality
- You work in an environment where respect, civility, and fair treatment are the norm and ingrained in the culture
- You are free to report poor treatment or harassment by colleagues, supervisors, or customers without fear of retribution
- You are given the tools and support you need to do your job well without injury to your physical or mental health
- You are able to work – on the whole – predictable consistent hours with reasonable breaks to restore your energy
- You are expected to uphold the law, and conduct yourself ethically in your business dealings – nothing less will be tolerated.
If you’ve ever felt unsafe, anxious, or nervous at work, it’s likely that a failure in one of the above areas is to blame. Know this – these are reasonable and important expectations in today’s workplace. YOU DESERVE NOTHING LESS.
Enjoy the Labor Day holiday!
P.S. Are you proud of your workplace? Let us know where you work and what you love about it! Share on Avarah’s Facebook page.