Framing Workplace Safety

Filed in Jobs, Safety, Workplace Rights by on July 22, 2011 28 Comments

 

An Earl Dotter photograph depicts a Boston laborer displaying personal protection equipment.

Photographs of lasting value look at the world in which we live and work, empowering us to share what we feel is important in useful ways. These images become vehicles for understanding and for spurring action. Early in my career as a photojournalist, I documented the lives of coal miners for the United Mine Workers of America Journal. Those photographs captured not only the working conditions in America’s mines at that time, but also the strength and resilience on display among these workers with their families and in their mining communities. The photographs were part of a movement to fight for stronger safety and health standards when coal mining was the most dangerous job in the United States.

By creating images that evoke both a visual and an emotional response in the viewer, I sought to inspire people to stand with these workers in their fight. That’s why I’m so pleased to be helping the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) select the winners of its Picture It! Safe Workplaces for Everyone photo contest. I believe that a photograph is a valuable way to tell OSHA’s story and thereby inspire others to action.

How does one create a telling “image of safety and health at work?” For me it is important to be as clear as possible about the message you want the picture to convey.  Much of the time in a workplace, the background of the photo needs to be simplified or under-emphasized to make the subject stand out powerfully.  Successful occupational safety and health photographs can have lasting value, so give yourself enough time to shoot your subject in a variety of ways. You’ll be pleased by the enhanced results you’ll achieve when shooting a subject both vertically and horizontally, from varied angles and from various distances.  By taking a little more time, you’ll be gratified by how your pictures’ success rates increase.

Creating photographs that speak clearly about health and safety concerns of importance to you has its own reward. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or a safety and health expert – anyone motivated to apply workplace experiences and creative energy to support a worker’s right to a safe and healthful workplace can create a meaningful image.  I encourage you to give it a try.

It’s important to reach out to people to explain the ways we can keep our workplaces free of recognized hazards, but it’s also important to show people why, through the photographs you make. OSHA’s photo contest is your opportunity to help the agency preserve human dignity and the enormous potential of our fellow workers by capturing an image that moves people and casts new light on the work we do.

I’m looking forward to seeing your contributions and I hope you take as much enjoyment from your photographs as I’ve always taken from mine.

Please visit OSHA’s photo contest website at http://www.osha.gov/osha40/photo-contest.html to learn about the contest and submit your photos. The contest ends August 12th.

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Earl Dotter, an award winning occupational photojournalist.  For forty years he has documented a wide range of workplace safety and health issues with a concern for the environment inside and outside the factory gate. The views expressed in this post are his own.

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Comments (28)

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  1. Golden Love says:

    I support this work. It helps other workers see the importance of protecting oneself from hazards. My workers will benefit from this competition.

    Thank you,

    Golden Love
    President and CEO
    Love’s Gardens

  2. Rick says:

    As a physical therapist and physical therapy marketing professional, I’ve been exposed to injuries incurred while working.

    Improving the safety of workers is something that should be taken seriously to avoid accidents.

  3. Gregg Stoerrle says:

    How about a picture of an OSHA whistleblower and their family living on the street for doing the right thing contacting OSHA about unsafe equipment.That would warn other potential whistleblowers who think they are protected by OSHA whistleblower protection program.I will take a picture of me and my family first and call the second technicion who came forward to OSHA and lost his job.Im not shore the third technicion who came forward still has his job.So i do not know if i should send in a group photo of us three whistleblowers or single picturies?
    Gregg Stoerrle
    PROUD NAVY DAD

  4. I think this photo contest is a wonderful idea, will create involvement at the ground level. However, photos with violations (like the gentleman wearing the thick hoodie under his hardhat pictured above) should probably be ommitted. Can’t wait to see the final results.

  5. sk starr says:

    Is OSHA’s photo contest an annual? If so, I’d like a head’s up next year . I got the announcement at the end of the contest via my news feed. Work place safety is everybody’s business.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your interest in OSHA’s photo contest and your support for workplace safety. This was the first year that OSHA held the photo contest. It has had a positive response, so we hope that OSHA will be able to run it again (perhaps annually). However, no final determinations have been made as to whether or not to repeat the contest.

  6. Successful occupational safety and health photographs can have lasting value, so give yourself enough time to shoot your subject in a variety of ways

  7. How much your work is complete? It’s important to reach out to people to explain the ways we can keep our workplaces free of recognized hazards, but it’s also important to show people why, through the photographs you make

  8. It’s really important to give safety and health protection of all employees. For the photograph posted, I’m glad that it shows the good health and safety of every employee.

  9. Didar says:

    Very important issue in deed. Specially in this time of high inflation and high unemployment rate.

    Didar
    http://www.takeshiyashima.com

  10. It happened to me before that company never give me favor of giving me protection. I’m so glad to read your post that you value all your employees. Indeed, it really inspires me.

  11. Lee Huck says:

    The companies must took care their employees specially in medication if an incident happen. Workers is the most important asset in the company.

    Lee – Occupational Therapy Schools

  12. You have post very important issue in you blog. I support this work. This is very helpful for workers and they take advantages of it.

  13. Living with your mistakes is harder than you think…Wear your safety gear. I am glad to see your post. This is very helpful for workers.

  14. I definitely agree to Lee without the help of the workers the company will failed.
    They must value or treasure loyal employers.

  15. I like the idea of photo contests and publishing more photos depicting PPE or hazards to raise awareness. The DOL published the recent heat illness app for mobile devices which is another tool to help workers and employers keep a safe workplace. I believe that the DOL should focus hard on publishing more updated media like photos, video’s, apps & more as the new generations consume information much differently than previous ones. Visuals are everything in raising awareness.

  16. Indeed you have an inspiring article for the workers like me.

  17. “You don’t have to be a professional photographer or a safety and health expert – anyone motivated to apply workplace experiences and creative energy to support a worker’s right to a safe and healthful workplace can create a meaningful image.”

    I’m definitely an amateur, but I think I have some potential. I see that the deadline has passed – Are you still accepting submissions?

  18. Janice Barth says:

    In the picute submitted by Paul Navarrette Riverside Ca, for your Honorable Mentions Public Contest, the employee does not look like he was tied off to anything.

  19. David says:

    Great read! This is an inspiring blog for workers. The idea of photo contests and publishing these photos of depicting PPE or hazards to raise awareness.

    Degree Programs Online

  20. The winners of the photo contest really did a great job of capturing the beauty of the workplace. I was in total awe of the photos. I especially liked the ones submitted by OSHA employees.

  21. we have had a couple of work accidents. education is the key to provention

  22. work safety is such a big deal. making sure all regulations are set and in place is a really good idea. it keeps busniesses from being sewed and creates a positive atmosphere!

  23. Whatever people want to do for a living, and wherever they are in US or UK, our vision should be to give them the opportunity to work in ways that sustain and improve their health and well-being. Great post

  24. The photo contest is a great idea. the health and safety images are usually dull and don’t talk to the viewer.

  25. Preventing workplace accidents says:

    Accidents on construction site continues to be the main cause of workplace injuries. By providing the proper equipments for material handling the risk of injuries is reduced. Thanks.

  26. Hannah Brown says:

    Will you be bringing this contest back in the future? Sadly I didn’t know about it.

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