Visual Timeline of Workplace Safety Problems and Improvements

The following infographic was provided by, a provider of lab equipment and supplies.

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The graphic represents many of the horrible workplace tragedies of the last 120 year, including a few recent ones. We’re about to come up on the 100th birthday of safety glasses and the hard hat… it’s interesting to see how many lives are estimated to be saved by each innovation. One thing that jumps out at me about the timeline is that it focuses on physical safety measures and government action, not so much on changes in management mindsets, like those advocated by Paul O’Neill (check out my recent podcast interview with him).

You can click on the image for a larger view.

What’s your reaction? Are there still additional things we can do for employee safety? We have a lot of rules and regulations, but it’s tough, if not impossible, to legislate safety problems away. What can we do in terms of management mindsets and philosophies?

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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6 Comments on "Visual Timeline of Workplace Safety Problems and Improvements"

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  1. | August 20, 2011
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  3. Anonymous | August 20, 2011
  1. You’re right, we can’t regulate hazards away. But we can try to minimize them as much as possible. Safety gear and improved standards have saved so many lives. But we still have a long way to go.

  2. Vickie says:

    As time goes on and as technology advances, it seems to me that there will always be safety guidelines to reevaluate and improve upon. Just look at the mining disasters of the last 2 years. Seems to me there are still improvements to safety procedures that can be made to improve the working conditions of many US workers. This infographic does a great job of showing how far we’ve come, but in my opinion there are still ways to improve working conditions of today’s manual laborers.

    • Mark Graban

      Sadly, we have less than perfect safety… still a long way to go and a lot of the disasters are really the effect of management problems (look at BP and other cases where there wasn’t a “culture of safety” in place). It’s more than a technological issue for sure.

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