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Essay: Health and safety in the workplace

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  • Published: 12 October 2015*
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Accidents and mishaps are unforeseen circumstances that can affect individuals and groups at any time and in any place. Most accidents are preventable, but the carelessness or negligence of the involved individuals leads to major injuries and grievances. Accidents can also occur in the workplace and seriously affect the ability and health of the involved workers.

The objectives of this essay to discuss the safety and wellbeing of all workers are necessary for the organization not only for consistent productivity but also due to regulatory requirements. Workers and human resources are the necessary components of all organizations due to their role in the effective accomplishment of objectives. Corporations cannot achieve long-term success and sustainable growth in the absence of motivated, safe, healthy, and effective workers. The health and safety of all workers are necessary to ensure the enhancement of productivity and efficiency at all levels and areas. Lack of safety measures can create havoc for the organization and negatively affect the working criterion of an organization. The management has to devise and implement effective safety procedures to reduce hazards and prevent accidents in the workplace. The can motivate the employees through this perspective as employees admire working in organizations that prefer safe working conditions. Employees believe that safer working conditions enhance their ability work because they do not feel scared in troublesome situations. The management should coordinate with all the related stakeholders when they devise policies about safety at workplace, as this would enhance a positive change in an organization. Different legislations also depict that organizations should focus on these perspectives and they should attain self-sufficiency in providing workplace safety.

Introduction

Corporations in the current era focus on the development of employees and they believed in the ideology of benefiting employees through different approaches. Safety at the work force is an important aspect that many organizations of today’s world disregard. Many people face mishaps and accidents in various situations especially due to negligence, recklessness, and carelessness. Many accidents and serious injuries are avoidable and preventable by taking effective safety measures and reducing hazards. For example, drivers and passengers can avoid serious injuries and death by wearing seatbelts while traveling in cars. However, many people fail to realize the importance of seatbelts and face a variety of consequences in the event of an accident. Mishaps and accidents are unforeseen occurrences that can lead to several adverse consequences in the absence of effective safety measures and precautions. Accidents, disasters, and mishaps can also occur in the workplace and affect several employees in the absence of precautions and safety procedures. Certain mediocre organizations do not regard this aspect as important and they do not focus on safety at the workplace. The owners and management of the organization need to implement rules, regulations, procedures, and systems relevant to safety and health. The management also needs to ensure that all workers have ample knowledge and information regarding safety procedures, prevention of accidents, and safe working practices.

Human resources

Human resources are one of the most important assets of the organization with respect to success and growth. The success and growth of the organization depend on the effectiveness and efficiency of the human resources. However, the inefficiencies in human resources caused by any circumstances, occurrences, and events can hinder the accomplishments of the organization. Organizations take all necessary measures to ensure the productivity of all workers and employees to maximize profits and achieve organizational objectives (Blair, 2013). The wellbeing, safety, and health of all employees are among the highest priorities of all organizations. Organizations cannot take risk for their respective employees because an occurrence of a negative event would tarnish the credibility of an organization. Safe and healthy workers are more productive as compared to injured or sick employees. Employees that cannot work in safe conditions feel suffocated because of the risks associated with their respective work. Risks and hazards associated with a specific job or organization adversely affect the morale and motivation level of employees. The unsafe or hazardous working conditions have several long-term psychological and physiological consequences for the workers and the organizations. When a negative event occurs in an organization, it sets up the mindset of an employee. Employees would feel that this event would occur again and this would create hurdles in their effective working process. Organizations need to create a safe and healthy working environment for all workers to ensure high levels of motivation and enhancement in efficiency (Stricoff & Groover, 2012).

Safety at Workplace

Workplace safety refers to the prevention of illness, injury, and hazards in the workplace for all employees. Workplace safety involves the creation of a safe and healthy environment for all workers to evade hazards, injuries, and illnesses. Organizations can ensure the efficiency of all workers and circumvent a considerable amount of costs by ensuring workplace safety and health. Organizations develop different strategies through which they set up different work place safety policies and benefit the workers through this. Workplace injuries and illnesses lead to compensation benefits, health insurance costs, hiring temporary replacements, lost work hours, and lawsuits. Lack of concentration would cost severe damage to an organization and they should sort such issues in order to attain proactive benefits. Business can save a considerable amount of costs by creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all workers. Safeguarding the interests and wellbeing of the employees allows organizations to circumvent costs relevant to injuries and illnesses (Legg, Laird, Olsen, & Hasle, 2014). On the other hand, workplace safety instills a sense of commitment and dedication among the employees due to the safety assurance of the organization. The morale and motivation of the workers increase due to the implementation of rules that safeguard the health and interest of the employees. Employees feel that they are safe to work in this place, and through this perspective, they would perform well.

Purpose of Workplace safety

The primary objective of safety in the workplace is to create a safe, healthy, and risk-free environment for all workers. Workplace safety involves the evaluation, analysis, prevention, and elimination of hazardous and dangerous elements from the workplace. Workplace safety programs evaluate and remove the risks and hazards relevant to the safety, well-being, and health of workers and other relevant individuals. Organizations develop health and safety standards due to several reasons including laws, regulatory requirements, organizational policies, and historical occurrences. Certain industries and their associations bind organizations to work for the benefit of their employees and they force organizations to focus on different safety related perspectives. Workplace injuries and illnesses caused by working conditions or environment can lead to lawsuits, high costs, and deterioration of the corporate image. There are instances when employees at times die because of sever working conditions. Employees might got injured because of certain safety and the lack of safety would be the only probable reason of this. Enhanced safety measures and appropriate quality of these measures can reduce this perspective to a considerable level.

Safety at the workplace enables organizations to comply with regulatory requirements and prevent high costs resulting from injuries and illnesses. Several corporations can consider the fact that these safety measures would save their health and medicinal costs that would arise when an employees would hurt him. They should take proactive measures earlier through which people can benefit from these perspectives. The management can maintain high levels of productivity and efficiency by creating a safe and healthy working environment. Conversely, the employees work with dedication due to their perceptions regarding the commitment of the organization with respect to the wellbeing of the workers.

Importance of safety at workplace

Legislative and legal requirements are the most prominent cause of health and safety policies in most organizations. The Occupational and Safety Health Act is the primary law for the assurance of health and safety of all workers throughout the United States. The Occupational and Safety Health Act (OSHA) necessitates the dissemination of standards, rules, and regulations relevant to the safety and health of workers. The government establishes and enforces the standards for the safety and health of all workers and their families through the Act. All public and private organizations have to comply with the rules, regulations, and standards prescribed in OSHA (Jung & Makowsky, 2014). They would face legal complications if they do not comply with such policies and measures taken by the decision makers. However, many organizations develop and implement health and safety procedures to safeguard their interests relevant to organizational objectives rather than legal requirements. The financial and moral aspects of workers’ health and safety have a greater influence as compared to regulatory compliance. Corporations can save considerable costs by avoiding high insurance expenses, lawsuits, and employee replacement costs in the event of injuries and illnesses (Barling & Frone, 2003).

Manpower and Management

The primary objective of all managers is to enhance and promote productivity and efficiency in all areas and functions. However, the managers cannot uphold efficiency and effectiveness in the absence of a safe workplace. The managers need to create a safe working environment and increase the awareness and knowledge of all employees with respect to safe working practices. The employees and workers also need to understand the importance of workplace safety and reduce personal injury through attentiveness and removal of hazards. These safety hazards are negative for the effectiveness of organizations and create a long-term negative impact. The attitude of the employees, management, and employers plays a vital role in preventing accidents and creating a safe working environment. The negligence on the part of the employers and employees can cause a variety of hazards and accidents (Rahim, Ng, Biggs, & Boots, 2014). However, the diligence and commitment of all stakeholders regarding safe work practices leads to the prevention of major accidents and injuries. The employees and management can create a safe workplace through a shared responsibility model for workplace safety and cooperation. Organizations should own this perspective and they should realize the fact that it is their managerial responsibility to focus on this perspective so that employees can remain safe.

Conclusively, a safety plan is necessary and it comprises of certain steps that would develop a safer workplace. Organizations should make sure that everyone else in the workplace is aware of the core problem. People should notify their respective supervisors and they should file any reports if there is a problem. An important aspect is that people should realize that there is a problem as sitting back and holding the problem for a long time would not solve the problem.

Barling, J., & Frone, M. (2003). The Psychology of Workplace Safety. New Jersey: Amer Psychological Assn. Blair, E. H. (2013). Building safety culture. Professional Safety , 58 (11), 59-65. Cobb, E. (2013). Bullying, Violence, Harassment, Discrimination and Stress: Emerging Workplace Health and Safety Issues. New Jersey: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Jung, J., & Makowsky, M. D. (2014). The determinants of federal and state enforcement of workplace safety regulations: OSHA inspections 1990’2010. Journal of Regulatory Economics , 45 (1), 1-33. Legg, S., Laird, I., Olsen, K., & Hasle, P. (2014). Creating healthy work in small enterprises – from understanding to action: Summary of current knowledge. Small Enterprise Research , 21 (2), 139-147. Mathis, T., & Galloway, S. (2013). Steps to Safety Culture Excellence. New Jersey: Wiley. Rahim, A. N., Ng, H. K., Biggs, D., & Boots, K. (2014). Perceptions of safety, physical working conditions and stress between Malaysia and United Kingdom. International Journal of Business & Society , 15 (2), 321-338. Stricoff, R., & Groover, D. (2012). The Manager’s Guide to Workplace Safety. New York : Safety in Action Press.

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Essay on Safety Rules

Students are often asked to write an essay on Safety Rules in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Safety Rules

Introduction.

Safety rules are guidelines designed to keep us safe. They are essential in our daily lives, especially in places like school, home, and on the road.

Importance of Safety Rules

Safety rules protect us from harm. They ensure we avoid accidents and injuries. For example, traffic rules prevent accidents on roads.

Safety Rules at School

At school, safety rules include not running in corridors, using equipment correctly, and following fire drill procedures.

Safety Rules at Home

At home, safety rules may include not touching hot surfaces, keeping sharp objects out of reach, and not playing with electrical outlets.

Following safety rules helps us stay safe and prevent accidents. It is crucial to always remember and follow them.

Also check:

  • 10 Lines on Safety Rules

250 Words Essay on Safety Rules

Safety rules are a set of guidelines designed to protect individuals from potential harm or damage. They are particularly significant in maintaining order and preventing accidents in various environments such as workplaces, schools, and public areas.

The Importance of Safety Rules

Safety rules are indispensable as they play a crucial role in safeguarding human life and property. They act as preventive measures against potential hazards and accidents, thereby reducing the risk of injury or harm. For instance, traffic rules help control the movement of vehicles, significantly reducing road accidents.

Adherence to Safety Rules

For safety rules to be effective, strict adherence is necessary. Compliance ensures that the risk of accidents is minimized, fostering a secure environment. It is the collective responsibility of all individuals to follow these rules, as negligence can lead to catastrophic outcomes.

Consequences of Ignoring Safety Rules

Ignoring safety rules can lead to severe consequences. It not only endangers one’s life but also puts others at risk. Violations can lead to legal repercussions, financial penalties, and even loss of life. Therefore, understanding and respecting safety rules is of paramount importance.

In conclusion, safety rules are a fundamental aspect of our lives, designed to protect us from potential harm. Strict adherence to these rules is essential for maintaining a safe and secure environment. As responsible citizens, we should always strive to respect and follow these guidelines to ensure our safety and that of others.

500 Words Essay on Safety Rules

Introduction to safety rules.

Safety rules are a set of guidelines designed to protect us from harm, injuries, and even death. They are the foundation of a safe and healthy environment in every aspect of our lives, whether at home, at work, on the road, or in public places. Safety rules are not just about physical safety, but also about maintaining mental and emotional well-being.

Safety rules are of paramount importance as they help to prevent accidents and mishaps. They serve as a protective shield, saving individuals from potential dangers. For instance, traffic rules prevent accidents on roads, workplace safety rules prevent occupational hazards, and safety rules at home prevent domestic accidents. Moreover, they also play a crucial role in maintaining order and discipline in society.

Types of Safety Rules

There are several types of safety rules, each designed for specific situations.

Workplace Safety Rules

These rules are designed to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace. They include guidelines for the use of machinery, handling of hazardous materials, fire safety, and proper ergonomics.

Home Safety Rules

These rules are aimed at preventing accidents at home, such as falls, fires, and poisoning. They include keeping floors and stairs clear of clutter, storing medicines and cleaning supplies out of children’s reach, and installing smoke detectors.

Traffic Safety Rules

These rules are designed to ensure safety on the roads. They include obeying traffic signals, wearing seat belts, not using mobile phones while driving, and following speed limits.

Role of Safety Rules in Risk Management

Safety rules are an integral part of risk management. They help identify potential hazards, assess risks, and implement measures to mitigate them. Safety rules also ensure that in the event of an accident, the impact is minimal. They create a safety culture where everyone is aware of the risks and takes responsibility for their own and others’ safety.

The Consequences of Not Following Safety Rules

Ignoring safety rules can have severe consequences. It not only puts the person at risk but also others around them. Non-compliance can lead to accidents, injuries, legal issues, and even loss of life. It can also lead to financial losses due to damage to property and compensation claims.

In conclusion, safety rules are indispensable in our lives. They protect us from potential hazards and ensure our well-being. It is essential to understand and follow these rules for our own safety and for the safety of others. Ignoring them can lead to severe consequences. Thus, it is not just a personal responsibility but a societal one to adhere to safety rules at all times.

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Importance of Health and Safety at Workplace, Essay Example

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Both the employer and the employees are responsible for health and safety of the workplace. The most important responsibility of an employee is taking reasonable care of their own safety and health this means you are you own keeper. The employees should use properly any material provided to them for safety purposes, health and safety. For example protective clothes like gloves, protective masks and laboratory coats should always be worn as required. An employee should also ensure that they understand and adhere to what they are trained on concerning the health and safety policies of the company they are working for. For example they should understand all the technical aspects of the machine they operate to avoid accidents and should also observe safety precautions as far as operation of machines is concerned. In operation of machines, loose clothing, long hair, jewellerly which can get entangled by moving parts of the machine. This can be achieved by avoiding such clothing and jewellerly when operating machines and wearing head scarf incase of the long hair.

In any working environment, employees should also be responsible for their colleague’s health and safety by ensuring that what they do does not pose risk to other workers and the environment (Dalton, 98).  For example when mixing chemicals in laboratory poisonous gases might be released and so safety precautions – working in a fume chamber- must be taken to avoid their release to the environment because they can produce hazardous effects to the environment in which case the near surrounding is your colleague and also members of the public. Another example is when working in a microbiology laboratory the dust coats and any other protective clothing worn should remain in the lab to avoid contaminating other environments with microbes some of which are a health hazard.

The employer has also responsibility towards the health and safety of his employees. The very vital role is to ensure that the employees get the best training in understanding safety procedures of the work place and providing sufficient protective measures and   materials to their employees. For example they should have measures to cater for any emergencies like in case of fire exits should be available. For the disposable protective material like gloves the employer must ensure constant supply. Employers should also change their employee’s jobs if they report any strains resulting from the kind of job they do or if under any medication that reduces their working ability or even in case of pregnancy. Employers have also the duty of ensuring a comfortable work place for their employees’ their duties include ensuring providing the right work equipment and ensuring proper maintenance ensure that ventilation, washing and rest facilities are up to standard as per health safety and welfare requirements.  (Directgov.uk)

Addressing health issues and safety in the workplace does not only help the employer save money but also increases business value. This is because when workers sty healthy and whole the business saves costs which would have been spend on occupational injuries which of course come directly from company profits.  Direct cost-savings to businesses include: reduced medical expenditures; lower insurance costs used to  compensate workers’; reduced  costs incurred in   job accommodating  workers with injuries; reduced expenditures during  return-to-work programs; less expenses for  overtime benefits and reduced numbers of  faulty product.

Health and safety at workplace also result into decreases in costs incurred indirectly due to: increased productivity, production of products of higher quality which means increased sales. Safe workplace also fosters good labor or management relations and hence employees re motivated consequently there is increased production of high quality products s well s decreased turnover.

Employees and their families benefit from safety health and safety also have benefits to the employees and their families because it minimizes stress and they are able to protect their income as well as protecting injuries from hampering the families. It is very clear that health and safety add value not only to  businesses, but also to the workplaces as well s lives and therefore protecting people in the workplace should be  in our economy, our families, colleagues, and the community at large best interest(Cogwell Anderson R.  & Kaczmarek  B., vol.4 )..

OSHA and Its Basic Requirements or Provisions

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an Americans agency under the Labor Department whose responsibility is assuring the health and safety of workers in America by providing education, training and outreach; setting and enforcing standards; encouraging continued improvement in terms of health and safety in the workplace and establishing partnerships (Summary Guide of OSHA Regulations and Requirements).

Requirements or Provisions

OSHA is assigned two main functions by The OSH Act .these re setting standards and inspecting workplace to ensure employers compliance with the standards and provision of a healthful and safe workplace. The OSH Act applies to employees and employers in varied fields like, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, long shoring,, medicine, law,   disaster relief and charity , private education and organized labor. Fields not covered by OSH ct include work conditions under the regulation of other federal agencies and statutes like nuclear energy, mining end many parts of the transportation industry, people who re self employed and local government end states employees(Summary Guide of OSHA Regulations and Requirements).

Federal OSHA Standards

OSHA standards my require that employers adopt some means, processes and practices  necessary for  protecting workers t work. It is the employers’ responsibility to familiarize with standards required by their establishments as well as complying with the standards and to ensure hazardous free conditions to their best capability. Employees must also comply with rules and regulations applicable to their own conduct and actions.

OSHA Standards are divided in four categories: General industry, agriculture, Maritime (long shoring, shipyards, marine terminals and construction. Each of these classes of standards imposes requirements that are aimed to the specific industry except in some instances where they are similar in all industries. Standards that impose similar requirements on all industrial sectors include standards for access to medical records, communication of hazards, access to records of exposure and personal protective equipment.

Equipment for personal  protection standard require employers to provide cost free equipment for  person  protection against certain hazards. Such equipment include goggles, helmets for head protection, eye and hear and gauntlets for iron workers. This standard is separately added to standards for every industrial sector with the exception of agriculture. Access to medical and records of exposure standard requires employers to grant their employees access to all the records they maintain of employees exposure to hazardous substances and medical access. Hazard communication standard require both importers and manufactures of materials that re hazardous to carry out hazard evaluation of the products they import or manufacture and have the containers of the product labeled appropriately if it’s confirmed to be hazardous under the standards terms. In addition   safety data sheet should also accompany the material on the first shipment to a new customer. Employers who use the safety data sheet must also have the employees trained on how to follow the safety instructions in the sheet and avoid the present hazardous material.

Reporting, posting and record keeping is imposed by OSHA regulations not a standard. Record keeping regulation require all employers under OSH cover with more than ten employees to maintain specified OSHA records of illnesses and injuries related to job. The regulation has n exception for low industries of low hazards like finance, real estate, some service industries, insurance and retail. The OSHA record keeping requires two forms be filled. form 200 is a log for illnesses or injuries with a separate entry for serious injuries which need recording .These include deaths related to the job, serious illnesses which require hospitalization and medication, restriction from work or motion or which led to transfer from one job to another .the form has also another section where all the injuries for the past year re recorded and posted in the work place every February. The other form is form 101 which provides additional report bout every workers recordable illness or injury. Despite the business category or employee numbers each employer must give reports to the OSHA office in the nearby if any accidents occur and cause hospitalization of more than three employees or cause fatalities. OSHA carries out investigations into the cause of the accident and whether it was s result of violation of standards.

Generally all employers must maintain hazard free workplaces to protect their employees from deaths or serious physical harm regardless of whether OSHA does not give a specific requirement or standard addressing such hazards. in such areas where OSHA has not given a standard to address a certain hazard, its employers responsibility to comply with the “general duty” clause for OSH Act which states that every employer “shall furnish a work place which is free from recognized hazards that are likely to or are causing serious physical harm or death to his employees” (Summary Guide of OSHA Regulations and Requirements).

Works Cited

Cogwell Anderson R.  & Kaczmarek  B.  : The Importance of Promoting Health in the Workplace . The Internet Journal of Academic Physician Assistants. 2004 Volume 4 Number 1

Dalton A,P. Health and Workplace Hazards . London: Cengage Learning.1998.

Employers’ Health and Safety responsibilities . Web. 9 Oct. 2008 http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/HealthAndSafetyAtWork/DG_4016686

Summary Guide of OSHA Regulations and Requirements . Web.4 April 2008 http://www.ehso.com/oshaoverview.php

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Research Policy Handbook

Health and Safety: Principles, Responsibilities and Practices

Policy authority.

University Committee on Health and Safety

Operations Council

University Cabinet

Policy Contact

Now in Policy Details

This manual provides information about policies, procedures, and guidelines related to health and safety at Stanford. Topics covered include responsibilities, services provided by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S), a variety of topics related to workplace safety (e.g. asbestos, ergonomics), the management of hazardous materials, and how to prevent and handle emergencies.

1. Principles

Safety is a core value at Stanford and the University is committed to continued advancement of an institutional safety culture with strong programs of personal safety, accident and injury prevention, wellness promotion, and compliance with applicable environmental and health and safety laws and regulations.

Stanford University makes all reasonable efforts to:

  • Promote occupational and personal safety, health and wellness;
  • Protect the health and safety of Stanford University faculty, staff and students;
  • Provide information to faculty, staff, and students about health and safety hazards;
  • Identify and correct health and safety hazards and encourage faculty, staff, and students to report​ potential hazards;
  • Conduct activities in a manner protective of the environment, and inform the Stanford community regarding environmental impacts associated with institutional operations; and
  • Maintain a risk-based emergency management program to reduce the impact of emergency events to the Stanford community.

2. Responsibilities

Adherence to good health and safety practices and compliance with applicable health and safety regulations are a responsibility of all faculty, staff, and students. Line responsibility for good health and safety practice begins with the supervisor in the workplace, laboratory or classroom and proceeds upward through the levels of management. For detailed guidance on individual safety responsibilities under Cal/OSHA, refer to the University’s  Illness and Injury Prevention Program (IIPP) .

In academic areas, supervisors include faculty/principal investigators, laboratory directors, class instructors, or others having direct supervisory and/or oversight authority. Academic levels of management are the department chairperson or Independent Lab director, dean, the Dean of Research, and the Provost. Administrative levels of management include managers, directors, and vice presidents.  Final responsibility for health and safety policy and programs rests with the President of the University.

The Associate Vice Provost for EH&S and the University Committee on Health and Safety are responsible for recommending University-wide health and safety policies to the President.

The Associate Vice Provost for EH&S is responsible for ensuring overall institutional compliance with applicable policies, statutes, and regulations; monitoring the effectiveness of the safety programs; and providing central health and safety services and support to all areas of the University.

A. Supervisory Responsibilities

University supervisors, including faculty supervisors and Principal Investigators (PIs), are responsible for protecting the health and safety of employees, students and visitors working under their direction or supervision. This responsibility entails:

  • Being current with and implementing Stanford University health and safety policies, practices and programs;
  • Ensuring that workplaces, including laboratories, and equipment are safe and well maintained;
  • Ensuring that workplaces or laboratories are in compliance with Stanford policies, programs and practices, and
  • Ensuring that employees, students and visitors under their supervision or within their work areas have been provided with appropriate safety training and information, and adhere to established safety practices and requirements.

B. Managerial Responsibilities

University managers, academic and administrative, are responsible for ensuring that:

  • Individuals under their management have the authority to implement appropriate health and safety policies, practices and programs;
  • Areas under their management have adequate resources for health and safety programs, practices, and equipment; and 
  • Areas under their management are in compliance with Stanford University health and safety policies, practices and programs.

C. Environmental Health and Safety Responsibilities

Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) is responsible for:

  • Reviewing legislation, recommending policies, and monitoring compliance with environmental and health and safety statutes and regulations and University health and safety policies and programs;
  • Developing institutional safety and compliance programs and assisting schools, departments, faculty, and managers with implementation
  • Providing guidance and technical assistance to supervisors and managers in the schools, departments, and other work units in identifying, evaluating, and correcting health and safety hazards;
  • Developing programs for the safe use of hazardous radiological, biological, and chemical substances and lasers;
  • Providing training materials, assistance, and programs in safe work practices;
  • Providing guidance on effective emergency management and business continuity programs, and providing emergency response services for incidents involving hazardous materials;
  • Providing fire prevention, inspection, engineering and systems maintenance services; and
  • Hazardous waste management and disposal services.

While EH&S is responsible for developing and recommending relevant health and safety policies, institutional policy approval rests with other University authorities,(e.g., President, Provost, Vice Provost and Dean of Research, Faculty Senate, University Cabinet, University Committee on Health and Safety, Committee on Research, Administrative Panels for Research Oversight, etc.) depending on the content of the proposed policies.

D. Faculty, Staff, and Student Responsibilities

Faculty, staff and students are responsible for:

  • Keeping themselves informed of conditions affecting their health and safety;
  • Participating in safety training programs as required by Stanford policy and their supervisors and instructors; 
  • Adhering to health and safety practices in their workplace, classroom, laboratory and student campus residences; Advising of or reporting to supervisors, instructors or EH&S potentially unsafe practices or serious hazards in the workplace, classroom or laboratory.

E. Safety Performance

Each individual at Stanford is expected to perform all work safely. Managers and supervisors shall establish and maintain a system of positive reinforcement and escalated discipline to support good health and safety practices. Safety performance shall be a part of every individual’s role and responsibility as well as performance expectation and evaluation.

3. Providing a Safe Workplace

Stanford's program for providing a safe workplace for faculty, staff and students includes: facility design; hazard identification, workplace inspection and corrective action; shutdown of dangerous activities; medical surveillance: and emergency preparedness. In addition to this general institutional health and safety policy, additional hazard specific policies and requirements may apply to different work and learning environments at Stanford and will be found in the  Research Policy Handbook  and at the EH&S Website.

A. Facility Design

Facilities will be designed in a manner consistent with health and safety regulations and standards of good design. Those University departments charged with primary responsibility for the design, construction, and/or renovation of facilities, together with EH&S shall ensure that there is appropriate health and safety review of facility concepts, designs, and plans.

In case of disagreement between EH&S and the cognizant facilities department, the conflict shall be resolved by the Vice Provost and Dean of Research in consultation with the cognizant vice president or dean and the Provost (or designate). The determination of the Vice Provost and Dean of Research may be stayed by the Associate Vice Provost for EH&S pending a prompt appeal to the President.

B. Hazard Identification and Correction

Stanford University encourages employees and students to report health and safety hazards to their supervisors, managers, or EH&S. Employees and students shall not be discriminated against in any manner for bona fide reporting of health and safety hazards to Stanford or to appropriate governmental agencies. Supervisors shall inform students and employees of this policy and encourage reporting of workplace hazards.

Supervisors, both faculty and staff, shall assure that regular, periodic inspections of workplaces are conducted to identify and evaluate workplace hazards and unsafe work practices.

  • The frequency of inspections should be proportional to the magnitude of risk posed in the particular workplace.
  • Means of correcting discovered hazards and/or protecting individuals from the hazards shall be determined and implemented appropriately.
  • Unsafe conditions which cannot be corrected by the supervisor or manager must be reported to the next higher level of management. Any individual, supervisor or manager who becomes aware of a serious concealed danger to the health or safety of individuals shall report this danger promptly to the Department of EH&S and to the faculty, staff and students who may be affected.

C. Shutdown of Dangerous Activities

The Associate Vice Provost for EH&S has the authority to curtail or shut down any University activity considered to constitute a clear and imminent danger to health or safety. In the event of such curtailment or shutdown, the cognizant dean, director or vice president and the Provost (or designate) shall be immediately notified.

In cases of dispute, an order to curtail or shutdown will remain in effect until the Provost or the Vice Provost and Dean of Research (or their respective designates) determine in writing that the danger has passed or been mitigated or that the order should be rescinded for other reasons.

Should the Associate Vice Provost for EH&S disagree with a determination to restore a curtailed or shutdown activity, the Associate Vice Provost for EH&S may promptly appeal the matter to the President. In the event of an appeal, the order to curtail or shutdown shall be in effect until the President determines otherwise.

D. Providing Medical Surveillance

Stanford University shall evaluate and monitor, through a program of medical surveillance, the health of Stanford University faculty, staff and students who are exposed to certain hazardous materials and situations as defined by law or University policy. Each supervisor is responsible for ensuring that employees and students under their supervision participate in the medical surveillance program as required by University policy. EH&S will monitor medical surveillance program participation. Each University department/school shall administer the program for faculty, staff and students covered by University policy.

E. Emergency Response and Preparedness

EH&S coordinates overall emergency response planning for the institution and provides guidelines for departmental emergency response plans. Every department shall have an individual emergency response plan and shall develop business continuity and contingency plans and implement appropriate mitigation programs to reduce the impact of emergency events.

Schools and departments shall maintain local departmental emergency operations centers and communications capabilities according to guidelines in the campus emergency plan. Multiple departments located within individual buildings will jointly develop comprehensive building-based life safety response plans.

Emergency plans shall include evacuation and assembly procedures, posted evacuation maps, reporting and communication practices, training, and drills.

4. Safety Communication and Training

Safety and compliance required training shall be communicated in a manner readily understandable to faculty, staff and students, in accordance with the communication policy outlined below.

A. Systems of Communication

Managers and supervisors, both faculty and staff, shall establish, implement and maintain a system for communicating with employees and students about health and safety matters. Information should be presented in a manner readily understood by the affected employees and students. Due attention must be paid to levels of literacy and language barriers. Verbal communications should be supplemented with written materials or postings if appropriate. Whenever appropriate, statutes and policies affecting employees and students shall be available in the workplaces.

B. Communication About Hazards

Faculty, staff, and students who may come in contact with hazardous substances or practices either in the workplace or in laboratories shall be provided information concerning the particular hazards which may be posed, and the methods by which they may deal with such hazards in a safe and healthful manner. In areas where hazardous chemicals or physical agents are used, handled, or stored, communication about these hazards shall conform to the  Research Policy Handbook EH&S Requirements  for laboratory facilities and the  Hazard Communication Program  for all other campus workplaces.

C. Training

Supervisors, including faculty, shall be experienced, trained or knowledgeable in the safety and health hazards to which employees and students under their immediate direction and control may be exposed, and shall be knowledgeable of current practices and safety requirements in their field.

Faculty, staff and students shall have or be provided the knowledge to protect themselves from hazards in their working and learning environment. Supervisors, both faculty and staff, shall ensure that employees and students have received appropriate training and information regarding:

  • General health and safety practices of the workplace or laboratory, including emergency procedures;
  • Job-specific health and safety practices and hazards;
  • Recognition and assessment of health and safety risks; and,
  • How to minimize risks through sound safety practices and use of protective equipment; and,
  • Awareness of appropriate practices to protect the environment.

Training shall occur when:

  • An employee is hired or student is new to the laboratory;
  • An employee or student is given a new assignment for which training has not previously been received; and
  • New hazards are introduced by new substances, processes or equipment.

Faculty, staff and students should, periodically, be retrained or demonstrate an understanding of current standard safety practices and requirements for their areas.

5. Documentation and Recordkeeping

Documentation and records as required by regulation shall be kept to demonstrate compliance with applicable statutes, regulations and policies. Requirements and procedures for such recordkeeping can be found in the  Research Policy Handbook  and at the EH&S website.

Current Version: 10.01.12

Original Version: 04.01.91

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Involving Moral and Ethical Principles in Safety Management Systems

Paul lindhout.

1 TPM Safety & Security Science Group (S3G), Delft University of Technology, 2628 BX Delft, The Netherlands; ln.93laap@uetnil

Genserik Reniers

2 KULeuven, Campus Brussels-Center for Corporate Sustainability (CEDON), 1000 Brussels, Belgium

3 Faculty of Applied Economic Sciences and Engineering Mgmt (ENM), University of Antwerp, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium

Associated Data

No new data were created or analyzed in this study. Data sharing is not applicable to this article.

Some organisations, and some individual humans, violate moral and ethical rules, whether or not they are written down in laws or codes of conduct. Corporate transgressions, as this behaviour is called, occur because of the actions of those in charge, usually bright and dedicated people. Immoral and unethical conduct can adversely affect the safety of workers, the general public and the environment. A scoping review method for a literature search is used to explore morality and ethics in relation to health and safety management. Our findings show that controlling the risks associated with misconduct and corporate transgression is not usually seen as a responsibility allocated to safety systems but is left to general management and corporate governance. The moral and ethical principles, however, can be applied in safety management systems to prevent misconduct and transgression-related safety risks. Our results show that ethical leadership, ethical behaviour, sustaining an ethical climate and implementation of an ethical decision-making process emerge as key preventive measures. The discussion presents a proposed way to include these measures in safety management systems. Conclusion and recommendations underline that unwanted behaviour and transgression risks can be brought under control, starting from a set of best practices. Not only the managers themselves but also board members, independent external supervisors and government regulators need to embrace these practices.

1. Introduction

In some companies and institutions, the people in charge break generally accepted rules. This conduct can have adverse effects for health, safety and the environment. In practice, the associated risks are not controlled within company safety management systems and are therefore often regarded, by default, as a direct responsibility of the general management. Against the background of morality and ethics, we explore the nature and possible consequences for health and safety of violations of broadly accepted rules. Based on literature review we identify the best practices and then propose to include countermeasures in safety management systems.

When someone is brusque, impolite or condescending towards someone else, this violates unwritten social rules. The recipients of such behaviour will most likely choose to avoid any further dealings with this individual. The other option would be to file a complaint and find an authority with the ability to enforce proper conduct.

Abuse, deceit and scam are more complicated to deal with for an individual. Avoiding such intentionally performed damage is difficult for the disadvantaged person. The costs and effort of filing a lawsuit may not even lead to compensation of the damage. Theft and extortion are regarded as a crime and the criminal justice system and insurance companies need to be involved. However, obtaining compensation for the damages suffered can be unattainable for many reasons. Both perpetrator and victim are individuals in such cases. The perpetrator engages with immoral conduct, pursuing personal interests, to the disadvantage of the victim.

Comparing this conduct with transgressing businesses yields an amazing resemblance. There, companies and large corporations are the perpetrators and the general public, the employees, the environment, the government and regulatory institutions are the victims. Transgressing companies may for example take unacceptable risks, damage the environment, cause harm to people, charge high prices to customers, deliver poor quality products and provide substandard, insecure and unsafe workplaces to their personnel. Such self-serving and immoral company behaviour is similar to that of a person. These violations of moral and ethical rules, corporate transgressions , often are the result of the actions of bright people acting on what they believe to be to their company’s best interest or their own interest [ 1 , 2 , 3 ].

2. Problem Definition

So how can people fall off the right track? People use their moral compass to navigate through life. Research has shown that this compass originates from culture. This leads to moral values and then to a personal set of social and ethical norms, creating someone’s individual moral and ethical standard. People normally make their decisions respecting the standard. In exceptional cases however, some people might decide to disengage from a part of the set of norms, e.g., with the prospect of great material gain or an increase in power, they allow themselves to engage in immoral conduct.

If people become involved in corporate transgressions, not only the quality of their own work can be affected but also that of others. They too can be disengaged from moral and ethical standards. Research shows that this can, either intentionally or accidentally, compromise the company safety performance [ 4 , 5 ].

Current safety management systems, often built around a core structure described by Hale [ 6 ] and intended to control risks according to the principles laid down in the ISO-31000 standard [ 7 ], do not include moral and ethical aspects. The ungrateful role of a whistle blower often is all that remains for those who notice the misconduct or transgression but are not part of it themselves.

Safety managers need an established and accepted way to take remedial action when they notice a transgression and suspect the presence of an uncontrolled safety risk. This study centres on the following question:

In what way should moral and ethical principles be included in safety management systems?

The scoping review method [ 8 ] is chosen to create an overview of current boundaries for safety management in companies of generally accepted moral and ethical principles in society, and of types of corporate transgressions. The latter are screened for health and safety management-related content. In support of this a literature search is used and a selection process according to Byrne [ 9 ], Daykin and Coad [ 10 ]. Because of the general nature of the research question, Google Scholar and its associated proprietary databases were used. A series of consecutive searches were performed with different combinations of the search terms:

“ethic(s)(al), moral, safety, science, occupational, environmental, health, value, disengagement, norm, principle, risk, management, system” and with: “fairness, equity, precautionary, cautionary, industry”s.

Since the subject at hand is an aspect of a slow-pace development process, different time periods were used to include the development of safety management systems since the nineteen seventies. Reference listings were screened for further sources. Next, the sources identified on title and abstract were deselected or admitted on the basis of relevance to the research question and on their scientific quality. Several non-academic secondary sources and grey sources were admitted because of their particular relevance [ 11 , 12 ].

The admitted sources were screened on content related to several subjects: morality and ethics in current safety management practice, moral and ethical principles in society, principles relevant to health and safety, ethical concerns in safety management, kinds of misconduct and transgressions, and a set of existing countermeasures from practice.

A simple text analysis and meta-synthesis method was then used to structure the data gathered per subject. This method can be used to compare and aggregate findings from multiple sources in order to establish an overview of common viewpoints, new interpretation and new knowledge [ 13 ].

Based on the set of measures, a way to include control of the misconduct and transgressions-related risks in safety management systems is proposed.

4.1. Literature Search Process Results

Nine searches were conducted, as indicated in Figure 1 , each leading to a number of sources returned. Using the selection process described in the method section these led to admission of 130 sources. Of these, 112 sources were subjected to text analysis and meta-synthesis [ 13 ], of which the results are presented in the following sections.

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Literature search and selection process results showing the numbers of sources in each step.

Figure 1 shows the literature search and selection process results.

4.2. Ethics in Current Safety Management Practice

Safety managers normally work within the boundaries set by the management philosophy implemented in a company. In practice, their job description often includes the requirement to abide corporate policy, to comply with local, national and international legislation and to respect the governmental permit to work conditions applicable to the company premises. Written or unwritten codes of conduct may be applicable. A safety professional is usually recruited on the basis of technical knowledge, previous experience in practice and a set of social skills [ 14 ]. Professional standards [ 7 , 15 , 16 ], a desired personal style [ 17 , 18 ], company safety targets and safety culture objectives then complete the safety manager’s operational framework [ 14 ]. In the well-established area of occupational health and safety, however, very few studies address the practical implementation of ethics [ 19 , 20 ]. In the increasingly important field of environmental health ethics, ethicists have different views and use conflicting approaches when it comes to the environment and nature [ 21 ].

Moral and ethical principles, including those concerning health and safety, are normally considered to be a part of business ethics [ 22 ], or of corporate ethics management [ 23 ] or of corporate social responsibility [ 24 ]. In contrast to this, non-controversial values have a presence in safety management practice, yet tend to be overlooked [ 25 ]. This situation excludes moral and ethical principles, at least partially, if not completely, from safety management responsibility. Moral or ethical misconduct by individuals and corporate transgressions have the potential to cause uncontrolled, hence unacceptable, safety risk. Hence, this exclusion is relevant to safety management [ 4 , 5 ] since such risks require the implementation of adequate risk control, similar to all other risks [ 7 ]. A relation between moral and ethical principles and safety management appears to be both missing and necessary.

4.3. Moral and Ethical Principles in a Range of Situations in Society

Both individuals and organizations ought to comply with widely accepted moral and ethical principles in society. In order for any organization to be viable, sustainable, long term profitable and socially responsible, the shareholders, leaders, employees, including safety managers, ought to embrace these principles [ 22 , 26 ]. Findings from general society, governance, government, regulators, organizations, health research, companies, human resources management, software development and health and safety management suggest that the distinction between what is good and what is bad, starts from values [ 27 , 28 , 29 ]. Values relevant to society are, e.g., the respect for human life, privacy, dignity, freedom, fairness, truth, reciprocity, safety, security and common good [ 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 ].

Morality is about the question “what is right?” and about respect for human values, e.g., in bio-medical research: respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice [ 19 , 34 , 35 , 36 ]. Rahanu et al. also mentions fidelity, reparation (undo damage done to others), justice, beneficence, self-improvement, gratitude and non-injury [ 29 ]. Resnik mentions protection of animal welfare, stewardship of natural resources, and ecological sustainability [ 37 ].

The rights, distributive justice, care and virtue principles are frequently mentioned as moral principles constituting a basis for ethics [ 38 ].

In turn, ethics are based on morality [ 39 ]. A range of ethical principles is found for the many situations and fields in society, e.g., the inviolability of national sovereignty, social equity, human rights, freedom [ 22 ], mutual respect, equality and inclusion [ 34 , 40 ], personal integrity [ 41 , 42 , 43 ], justice, fairness, non-maleficence, responsibility, privacy, transparency [ 44 , 45 , 46 ], value for human life, integrity, justice, the common good and excellence [ 27 ], justice as fairness [ 44 , 47 , 48 ], and a principle labelled as the golden rule: reciprocity, i.e., treat others as you like to be treated [ 29 , 32 ]. Most of these ethical principles also affect safety management.

Ethical principles lead to social norms [ 49 ]. Norms themselves influence choices people make, also in their behaviour relevant to safety [ 50 ]. Laws, rules and codes of conduct prescribe good behaviour, prohibit misconduct and prevent behaviour based on vices rather than virtues [ 29 , 39 , 51 ]. People can also voluntarily choose for good behaviour on basis of virtue ethics, e.g., altruism, generosity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom [ 39 , 52 ]. Behaviour based on vices, e.g., violence, greed, slander, lust, exploitation, intolerance or selfishness, is considered to be unethical [ 39 ]. An organization might voluntarily set itself a societal goal or assume a social responsibility or duty, e.g., human dignity, sustainability, solidarity, magnanimity (use own strength to help others) or quality of life [ 29 , 51 , 53 ].

4.4. Ethical Principles Important for Health and Safety

The need for safety is not being debated now and is not expected to be in the future. As Hollnagel puts it: “ That safety is important needs little argumentation ” [ 4 ]. There is a broad consensus on what safety is about. At the core of safety-related ethics is the notion of “ not wanting to see anybody hurt ” [ 54 ]. This notion is taken up in several international declarations, charters and covenants. For an individual, no harm, health and safety are declared human rights [ 46 , 55 , 56 , 57 , 58 ]. From a set of eight government principles for risk control, three touch upon ethics, addressing criteria for risk acceptance, transparency in risk communication and equity [ 59 ]. For health and safety in particular, cautionary, precautionary, equity and fairness are mentioned as ethical principles [ 25 ].

In industry, several initiatives were taken to develop and implement a set of principles for ethical conduct. The UN Global Compact initiative [ 60 ] mentions ten principles: protection of human rights, non-complicity in abuse, free association, no forced labour, no child labour, no discrimination, precautionary approach to the environment, responsibility for the environment, environmentally friendly technology and no corruption.

An emerging set of eight ethical corporate conduct standard principles was identified by [ 22 ]. At the Caux Round Table meeting [ 61 ] between international business representatives, respect for stakeholders, societal development, environment and performing beyond the requirements set by law, were included in their seven agreed business principles. All this leads to an indicative comparison between societal and institutional ethical principles and emerging corporate conduct principles, see Table 1 . Many of these principles are important for health and safety. The main observation is that the ethical principles embraced by society and adopted by the UN international institutions are currently only partly covered by the set of emerging corporate conduct principles.

Ethical principles and emerging corporate conduct principles relevant to health and safety.

The indicative comparison in Table 1 , inspired by an earlier study on ethics in occupational health and safety [ 19 ], shows that a significant part of the ethical principles is not being addressed in the emerging set of corporate conduct principles. Important for society in general is that the common good, equity and virtue principles are missing. Although a citizenship principle is present in the set, this void suggests that companies focus more on their own interests than on their contribution to society.

Specifically relevant for safety management is that the cautionary, autonomy, and excellence principles are either not addressed or not fully adopted. This means that risk informed consent, continuous improvement activities and ambition to go beyond mere compliance with the law, are not wholeheartedly supported, although a few points are now addressed in the seven agreed Caux standards [ 61 ]. This comparison demonstrates that an important part of the four ethical principles relevant to safety management [ 25 ] is missing. A detailed review of the principles in the corporate conduct set, which, at first glance, seem to address principles embraced by society and international institutions, results in a range of differences. This shows that the content of principles described in the set falls short with respect to embraced societal and proposed institutional principles.

4.5. Ethical Concerns and Issues in Safety Management

Several ethical issues specifically related to health and safety risk management are mentioned in literature: risk-informed employees, cost-benefit analysis (CBA), minimum safety criterion, the precautionary principle and the ALARP principle [ 62 ].

There are many more ethical concerns and issues affecting safety though. Frequently mentioned are: the provision of safe and risk resilient workplaces and avoiding societal harm [ 46 ], ethical cost-benefit analysis [ 63 , 64 , 65 ], consent to risk [ 66 , 67 ] and ethical aspects of paying workers extra for more risky work [ 46 , 68 ].

Safety professionals are facing tensions and burdens due to uncertainties, due to lack of knowledge, general management not embracing ethical values, and safety being regarded as a value while facing financial and economic constraints [ 63 , 64 , 69 , 70 , 71 ]. Several questions remain to be resolved on a case-by-case basis, e.g., what criteria are to be used to determine whether a risk is acceptable [ 63 , 72 ] and how far a safety professional should go to protect workers [ 64 ].

In practice, safety management faces a complex set of day-to-day problems with moral and ethical aspects. Even full regulatory compliance does not make everything safe [ 63 , 65 , 73 ] since legislation and standards simply do not cover every activity in industry and society, and since legislation, seen as solidified experience, is lagging behind. Emerging technologies, e.g., nanotechnology, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, autonomous weapons, genomics, big data analytics, and their associated new ethical concerns and risks add new ethical issues [ 30 ]. Although risk informed consent obtained from workers is important, it does not relieve employers from their responsibility for workplace safety [ 67 ]. Many ethical issues are originating from diversity in the workforce, e.g., in international business and on a multilingual shop floor, or from respecting a local culture, operating under an undemocratic government, in an industry with low wages, or in a social setting with poverty or discrimination [ 22 , 64 , 74 ]. Of a more general nature is the concern that there is a significant lack of knowledge about ethics and risk in organizations [ 45 , 75 , 76 ].

The weak relation between safety culture and moral intent [ 77 ] and the fact that complying to moral pressure and ethical norms does not necessarily make a workplace safe [ 78 ], necessitates other improvement actions within safety management systems.

Moreover, administrative practices, such as monitoring compliance, elaborate cost-benefit determinations, risk analyses, and metrics, e.g., on human error or human behaviour, can also constrain or reduce safety [ 65 ].

Safety management might be outside of its area of competence when it comes to illegal activities, e.g., corruption, bribery or child labour, but safety management should address responsibility for poor workplace safety, lack of environmental protection, risk taking behaviour [ 22 ] and the board of directors’ negligence or recklessness [ 79 , 80 ].

4.6. Misconduct and Transgression Types

Several types of misconduct and transgression are reported in literature. Immoral and unethical conduct might be found in many places in organizations relevant to health, safety and environment, e.g., providing unsafe workplaces [ 46 ], using poor research study designs or fabricated data [ 66 ], euphemistic labelling [ 81 ], presenting false information about services [ 82 ], paying workers more to let them follow a more risky and more profitable procedure [ 68 ], underestimating or ignoring risks [ 83 ], creating incentives for unethical conduct [ 52 ], and pursuing personal gain [ 84 ]. Five groups of wrong behaviour of individuals and organizations emerge from the literature findings in this study: abuse of power, misleading information, reduced moral awareness, risk of exposure and fraud.

4.6.1. Abuse of Power

Individuals can engage in self-interest that “ often takes the form of pursuing personal, material, or status-related gains ” [ 84 ]. Besides gain for the self, there are exploitation or oppression of others and “dehumanization in outcomes” [ 46 ], e.g., abuse of their job insecurity [ 85 ].

4.6.2. Wrong or Misleading Information

Both individuals and organizations can engage in working with faulty study design, wrong test subjects, too few samples, poor statistics, fabricated results, misinterpretation, biased conclusions [ 66 ], administrative process flaws [ 86 ], poor risk assessments, wrong handling of uncertainty, misinforming stakeholders and poor uniformity [ 83 ]. Examples are: false descriptions of goods or services, false price indications, less weight than stated being delivered, poor food safety, substandard product quality, poor hygiene and incorrect labelling [ 82 ].

4.6.3. Reducing Moral Awareness

Organizations can engage in reframing of moral consequences of damaging behaviours and dampening moral awareness among employees, which is used to reduce the uneasy feeling among workers when a company is transgressing [ 87 ]. This effect can be achieved by using Bandura’s eight mechanisms of moral disengagement: 1, moral justification; 2, euphemistic labelling; 3, advantageous comparison; 4, displacement of responsibility; 5, diffusion of responsibility; 6, disregarding or distorting the consequences; 7, dehumanization and 8, attribution of blame. These mechanisms are perceived as justifiers for corporate-level safety transgressions [ 88 , 89 , 90 , 91 ]. Several other ways to achieve this are found, e.g., to rationalize unethical behaviour [ 84 ], to hire people “ who have a greater propensity to morally disengage ” and use them “ to perpetuate organizational corruption ” [ 87 ].

Creating a narrow vision of workers on corporate deceit of the public via corporate rhetoric, using incentives (e.g., a bonus) for immoral behaviour, or setting immoral conduct examples in society as a frame of reference [ 92 ] all lead to moral disengagement. Encouragement of unethical behaviour in teams is also observed in practice [ 93 ].

4.6.4. Workers Risk Exposure

Companies might be presenting employees, third party workers or the general public with unsafe workplaces, health and safety risks or environmental hazards. Allowing the people involved remain ignorant about such risks is often mentioned in literature [ 46 ]. This involves, e.g., informing them about the hazardous nature of chemicals [ 38 ]. More indirect ways to risk exposure are caused by allowing flaws in ethical infrastructures in companies [ 84 , 94 ] and by acceptance of employee accident underreporting via bureaucratic and technocratic culture [ 95 ]. In risk assessments, allowing a lack of risk appetite, and a lack of knowledge, leads to uncontrolled risks on the shop floor [ 83 ]. Poor risk awareness, flawed technical- and human intervention-based preventive safety measures, and intangible risk components not dealt with, can affect safety [ 63 , 83 ].

Attempts to find out when doing harm can appear permissible by doing something good at the same time [ 96 ] may lead to operations with two goals of which one is immoral, e.g., increasing production by exposing a worker to more danger to increase profit [ 68 ]. This unethical type of practice is named the “ doctrine of double effect ” [ 96 ].

4.6.5. Fraudulent Practices

There are many ways fraudulent actions can affect safety, and harm people and the environment. Examples are, e.g., bid cutting, bid shopping, bribery, bullying, carelessness, collusive tendering, facilitation payments, corruption, cover pricing, deceptive practices, discrimination, dishonest actuations, dishonest social behaviour, environmental fraud, exert pressure to win at all costs, financial irregularities, artificially inflate profits misrepresentation, negligence, racial discrimination, sexual harassment, under bidding, extortion and withdrawal of tender [ 52 ].

4.7. Countermeasures

Many of the sources found mention countermeasures. These are presented in a variety of ways and aim at a variety of aspects. Six interconnected groups of measures emerge: 1, ethical management policy; 2, ethical leadership; 3, ethical risk assessment; 4, ethical climate; 5, ethical decision making and 6,ethical behaviour [ 22 , 50 , 97 , 98 ]. Table 2 presents an overview of countermeasures as reported from practice, together with references to source information. Each of these measures comprises activities proven to contribute to dedicated risk control, as reported in scientific literature. Together, the measures and activities constitute a set of best practices. It is proposed, as a start, to include this set of six measures and their associated best practices, presented in Table 2 , in safety management systems to control the risks associated with misconduct and transgression.

Misconduct and transgression risk control measures, best practices.

5. Discussion

5.1. effect of misconduct and transgression on safety and health.

As Melchers (2001) stated: “The unacceptability need not be in terms of tangible losses only, but can also involve moral or ethical criteria” [ 5 ] p. 64.

Although the findings of this study indicate compromised safety performance [ 4 , 5 ] we observe that none of the sources found indicate the existence of any difference between the possible effects on safety, health, the environment, originating from misconduct and transgression, and possible effects originating from other causality, e.g., pollution, occupational disease and exposure to unsafe working conditions.

It seems likely though, that not all of the misconduct and transgression risks and their possible effects would normally be taken into account in a company risk inventory. For safety management this implies that the introduction of new dedicated prevention activities may be important and existing repression activities may not suffice.

5.2. Safety versus Security Domain

The proposed way to include measures in safety management systems, as outlined in Table 2 , is based on several considerations. One can argue that a safety risk caused by misconduct and transgression both requires law enforcement in some cases (e.g., theft, fraud), and should in its entirety be considered as a security problem rather than a safety problem. The essential difference between these two domains is the presence of a deliberate and conscious intention to inflict physical harm to people and damage property in the security domain, and the lack of such intention in the safety domain [ 111 ]. The five groups of misconduct and transgression found in this study, abuse of power, wrong or misleading information, reducing moral awareness, workers risk exposure, and fraudulent practices, imply the opposite since the people involved have other intentions and prefer to go unnoticed.

5.3. Safety Management versus General Management Domain

Similar to any other hazard, the safety hazards caused by immoral conduct originate from within the ISO-31000 standard [ 7 ] realms of risk control and safety management. Hence, these hazards can be regarded as deviations from, e.g., proper risk assessment, risk analysis, safety culture, an environmental protection system, safe work policy, sound process installation design, routine preventive maintenance, employing skilled personnel and adhering to sustainable business practice. Therefore, it would seem practical to treat the risks associated with immoral and unethical conduct in a similar manner as all other safety risks. This is logical since those other safety risks are also mixed with, e.g., financial, commercial and social aspects, dealt with by general management or by other management disciplines. This involves the inclusion of misconduct and transgression safety risks in company risk assessments, starting from the known international case history, taking up the associated scenarios in the company risk inventory and implementing specific preventive and repressive safety measures to control the risks. Hence, this can bring the control of safety risks originating from immoral and unethical conduct within the bounds of safety management systems. Implementation can best be started from the six elements in the generic SMS framework model as developed by Hale [ 106 ] and validated by comparison with a range of SMS’s from practice [ 112 ]. The approach in this model ensures risk control system performance, learning and generation of performance data by the successive implementation of procedures on 1, business processes; 2, risk inventory; 3, risk barriers; 4, management system; 5, inspection and monitoring; 6, auditing and management review and 7, unwanted event analysis.

5.4. Independent Governance

The role of safety management itself, however, might be overruled or compromised in cases where the immoral and unethical conduct originates from the safety management itself, from executive management inside the organisation, from a corporate head-office abroad, from board members, and from influential commercial or financial stakeholders [ 52 , 68 , 76 , 81 ]. It is likely that safety managers cannot control the risks of immoral and unethical conduct only by themselves. The other stakeholders involved with a company need to embrace the ethical way of doing business too and take part in the control of these risks. Governance by independent external supervisors and inspection by government regulators needs to safeguard that this is being done.

Assessing whether risk assessment and risk calculation are sincere and ethical, whether risk acceptance is correctly performed via a fair approach (e.g., ALARP) and whether the barriers as installed are actually sufficient to control the risk, is a complex task. Therefore, risk calculations, e.g., applying risk thermostat-based formulas with risk in micromorts, monetized risk and the value of a human life, as they are vulnerable to assumptions, uncertainty, errors, incomplete modelling, neglected non-quantifiable aspects and lack of transparency for internal and external governance, should be performed very carefully since they may raise ethical concerns [ 110 ].

6. Conclusions and Recommendations

The results of this study show that safety risks, originating from misconduct and transgression, pose a challenge to both safety managers and safety management systems. Safety managers can start to implement six groups of measures which are readily available as the best practices. Company safety management systems then need to be further developed to accommodate a risk control system for safety risks associated with misconduct and transgression. Governance, comprising independent external supervision and government regulator inspection, is needed to safeguard proper functioning of the implemented risk control system.

It is recommended that further research into the safety risks associated with misconduct and transgression is conducted. Guidance for assessment of safety risks, associated with immoral and unethical conduct and corporate transgression, needs to be developed. It is also necessary that an implementation framework is established for embedding risk control measures in existing safety management systems.

Acknowledgments

There has been no external research funding for this study.

Author Contributions

P.L., Conceptualization; Methodology, Investigation, Visualization, Writing—original draft; G.R., Conceptualization; Supervision, Validation, Writing—review and editing. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

The authors have no competing interest to declare.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

English Compositions

Short Essay on Safety First [100, 200, 400 Words] With PDF

In today’s session, you will learn to write short essays on the popular term ‘Safety First.’ There are going to be three individual sets of short essays written on the topic covering different word limits.  

Feature image of Short Essay on Safety First

Short Essay on Safety First in 100 Words

Safety is the most important measure to take in our lives for any kind of emergency. We are often told about safety first. Safety means protection. We always try to avoid dangers or stay away from any harm. We work very carefully so that we do not get harmed by any problem.

Danger can come at any moment and any place. We are unaware as to when it will attack us. So having safety is our first and foremost priority. Whenever we are at home or outside, we must remember about it. We must never hurry into anything because that can cause us lots of risks. Also, we must keep a safety kit or a first aid box handy. This will help us to tackle any emergency when needed.

Short Essay on Safety First Example

Short Essay on Safety First in 200 Words

Safety means any kind of protection that we observe regularly. And safety first also means making safety our biggest priority. Maintaining safety is extremely important to us. It will keep our family and society safe and sound.

The country must have responsible citizens who can maintain safety. So being safe is for the good of everyone. We must always maintain safety measures. Be it in our home or outside, it will help us to live much better. Today we observe how difficult it is to walk peacefully on the roads. It is because people do not follow safety measures.

Some bike riders drive very rashly. They do not care about the pedestrians or people walking on the road. Often it creates accidents. These accidents are fatal and can kill them as well. The drivers do not consider driving safely and slowly. They drive the car or the bus at full speed. As a result, many people daily meet accidents on the roads.

Even animals are not free of these dangers. Little kids and aged people feel scared to go alone on the roads. Even in our homes, we forget to follow safety measures. So we face several problems and are hurt severely. The dangers can become serious if we ignore our safety. So safety first is our greatest duty to everyone in our country.

Short Essay on Safety First in 400 Words

Safety means protection from any sort of danger. The term safety first is, at present, a frequently used term. Safety is something that we prioritize first. Whenever there is danger, we must take an immediate measure of safety to survive the situation. Thus keeping safety as our biggest priority is the best task to do in our lives. We will stay prepared for any hazards that may arrive on our way.

Unfortunately, people nowadays do not consider safety as the primary need. As a result, we often face severe disasters. The biggest danger takes place outside our homes when we are on the road. The bike riders dive their bikes at high speed. They drive rashly over the roads and highways. Hence it becomes very difficult for the aged and the pedestrians to walk on the roads.

Anytime they can meet an accident, and can also die on spot. Similarly, for other vehicles like a bus or a car, we observe the same picture. The buses collide with other trucks and cars while breaking the traffic rules. It is a bad habit to violate the traffic rules and traffic signals for personal benefits. Maintaining safety on roads is for the benefit of everyone. We must follow the signals and use a zebra crossing while moving to a different route. Walking in between vehicles in a hurry or jumping down a bus while it’s moving can cause serious harm. 

Even on rail lines, we must be cautious. It is always advisable never to cross a rail line while a train is approaching. Similarly, standing near the door while the train is running at full speed can cause tremendous destruction. Some people often take selfies while standing on railways and even use them as fun places. However, it is stupid to take such things lightly. Everyone should remember the safety that can help them to live better.

Safety first applies to our household as well. If there is a little child or an aged person in the house, then these safety measures become very important. One must keep away all sharp objects, fire, oil, and other poisonous goods from their reach. Burners and cylinders should be switched off to avoid any danger. The doors should be closed so that babies cannot crawl outside the house.

Also, basic hygiene is a part of safety. Keeping the house clean will make it safe. Keeping a first aid box and some emergency medicines will protect us from any immediate need. Hence these basic yet important tips can enable us to live better. 

If you have any doubts regarding today’s lesson, kindly let me know through the comment section below. To read more such sessions, keep browsing our website.

Join us on Telegram to get all the latest updates on our upcoming sessions. Thanks for being with us. All the best.

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Essay on Road Safety

500 words essay on road safety.

In today’s fast-paced world, road accidents are happening at a very high rate. Although, the technological advancements in the automobile industry has thankfully brought down the mortality rates. Nonetheless, there are a lot of potential hazards that are present on the road. Thus, road safety is important to safeguard everyone. In this essay on road safety, we will learn its importance and its basic rules.

essay on road safety

Importance of Essay on Road Safety

Road safety is important to safeguard the well-being of everyone including humans and other living beings. This essay on road safety will help us learn about why it is important. A lot of environmental factors determine our road safety.

For instance, if it is raining or there is heavy fog or smog, the visibility of the driver will be hampered. It may result in pile-ups on the highway. Similarly, there are other factors like rain that lead to hydroplaning.

In this phenomenon, the vehicles that travel at high speeds start to slide uncontrollably as the tires of the vehicle push off the ground through a thin film of water present on the road.

However, road safety rules can help us avoid all these dangerous situations easily. When people follow the road safety rules rigorously and maintain their vehicles well, everyone can remain safe.

Most importantly, it is also essential to drive within the prescribed speed limits. Also, one must not use their mobile phone when driving a vehicle. Road safety is of utmost importance to make sure that everyone remains safe and healthy.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

Basic Rules of Road Safety

There are a lot of general and basic rules that one must follow when they drive vehicles or use public roads in general. The first rule is to know the signals and pay attention to them rigorously.

This applies to both the driver as well as the pedestrian. Further, it is important for those who are walking to use the sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. It is also essential to be aware of all the rules and laws of the state and abide by them.

Most importantly, it is also mandatory to have an approved driving license before getting on the road with your vehicle. Road safety sensitization is vital to ensure the safety of everyone.

Making the general public aware of the importance of road safety can help reduce the rate of accidents and road mishaps that happen on a daily basis. Seminars and educating people can be helpful to guide them and make them aware of the consequences.

Conclusion of Essay on Road Safety

To sum it up, everyone must follow the road rules. Do not drive at excessive speed and try to enhance the general awareness so risks of traffic accidents can be reduced. One must also check the vehicle health regularly and its maintenance parts to eliminate any potential risks.

FAQ on Essay on Road Safety

Question 1: What is road safety?

Answer 1: Road safety refers to the methods that we adopt to prevent road users from getting injuries or being killed in traffic accidents. They are essential to maintain everyone’s well being.

Question 2: How can one avoid traffic accidents and enhance road safety?

Answer 2: One can avoid traffic accidents by following the road rules strictly. Moreover, they must also make sure their vehicles are always well-maintained. Further, it is also vital to drive within the speed limits of the state. Do not use phones when driving or be under the influence of alcohol.

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Alcohol Exclusion Laws and Its Drawbacks

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essay about the rules of health and safety

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Photo ID 143764115 © Chris Dorney | Dreamstime.com

INTRODUCTION

Since the repeal of the 18 th Amendment in 1933, alcohol consumption has become prevalent among many Americans. Alcohol intoxication is an increasing contributor to emergency room visits wherein individuals present to the emergency department (ED) in an inebriated state,  often with secondary injuries or severe medical co-morbidities related to alcohol poisoning. The ED is a stressful environment with providers working under taxing conditions while triaging difficult cases. Alcohol related visits contribute to this added stress for staff given that intoxicated individuals increase wait times for the ED, use up valuable resources, and have the capacity to act violently towards providers. As one nurse puts it, some intoxicated individuals  present with “an aggressive state, perhaps have been in a fight, blood everywhere, careening  around the place – it can make things very difficult.” [1] To combat these circumstances, thirty-four States including the District of Columbia have implemented a countermeasure recognized as Alcohol Exclusion Laws (AELs). 

AELs reduce or cut insurance coverage of certain visits to the ED if the cause of the visit is due to alcohol intoxication. [2] The vast implementation of this law is derived from the idea of individual decision making, that it is an individual’s choice to consume alcohol, and therefore they hold a personal responsibility for their intoxication. By using insurance coverage as a leverage, the law aims at reducing the number of ED visits relating to alcohol intoxication, saving resources, and deterring irresponsible drinking. While the intention behind AELs aims for positive change, it is unethical to use AELs, a form of financial leverage, to address certain problems within emergency medicine. 

Stigma is prominent in almost all substance abuse cases including those seen with alcohol intoxication. Many patients feel embarrassment or shame when seeking medical attention for a condition that was brought on by alcohol misuse. A personal account by Jonathan Hunt Glassman, a former alcoholic and NBC contributor, emphasizes on this negative bias. He knows firsthand how unsettling an ED visit can be. He felt demoralized from a superficial prognosis  made by a nurse on his complex alcohol abuse condition, in which the nurse said, “You need to  stop drinking.” [3]

Whether it be from shame or insecurities about an individual’s condition, the stigma behind substance abuse cases in the emergency department and the daunting task of asking for help can turn a lot of patients away from seeking and receiving medical treatment. The implementation of Alcohol Exclusion Laws can amplify this already present stigma. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) analyzed States that implemented and continued to enforce Alcohol Exclusion Laws and the stigma in those states surrounding alcohol-related ED visits. The result from the study showed that AELs correlated with an increase in stigmatization regarding medical attention for alcohol-related incidents, and that AELs “negatively impact people’s willingness to seek medical care after alcohol-related injuries or  illnesses.” [4] Both the NIH study and the personal account by Hunt-Glassman go on to show that  AELs have the adverse effect of reinforcing the stigma surrounding alcohol cases in the ED.  While the idea behind AELs is in good faith, it contributes to the stigma. This contribution ethically challenges the idea that the emergency room is a space where the treatment of injuries is carried out without biases infringing on such medical care. The mission of EDs is to provide medical care to anyone in need. AELs have the effect of discouraging these patients from seeking help with the unintended consequence of doing them harm. 

A point of argument for the implementation of AELs is that it is the individual’s choice to be intoxicated and therefore justifiable that an individual receives less insurance coverage for medical expenses from a preventable intoxication. The idea of it being an individual choice to become intoxicated is one of the strongest supports for these exclusion laws. However, it is unjust to assume that all alcohol intoxications come by choice. Instances that disprove this assumption include both the college party scene and bar scene. Spiked drinks significantly increase alcohol concentration and can cause any responsible drinker to become intoxicated without intention or against their will. Additionally, alcoholic beverages served in various social gatherings like those in or around college campuses may not have a clear percentage of alcohol determination. Liquor containing high percentages of alcohol, such as Everclear which contains up to 190 proofs, are often masked by sweeteners and flavorings. Cocktails like these can cause a person to become dangerously intoxicated without their realization or intention. Some may argue that consuming an alcoholic beverage still holds accountability, that the person should be aware of the potential for a tampered drink, and therefore AELs should remain in use to deter this. However, like any law, AELs needs to have defined restrictions and/or exemptions. If the individual choice argument is used in favor for AELs, then how far reaching can the laws be applied? An attorney who specializes in these exclusion laws believes that AELs often offer more ambiguity than clarification when it comes to insurance policy, which leads to further ways insurance claims can be denied. [5]

In summary, the idea behind the use of Alcohol Exclusion Laws aims to reduce intoxication cases in the ED, however, there are drawbacks and aspects of this law that challenge the ethics of seeking medical care from the emergency department. The present stigma surrounding going to the ED for alcohol-related emergencies is already prevalent in hospitals across the country. When applying AELs, the present stigma may be magnified and further push the idea that seeking help for alcohol-related emergencies is shameful and embarrassing for patients, and therefore should be punished via financial means. Secondly, one of the main justifications for AELs is the idea that it is a deliberate intention to become intoxicated. It isn’t always the intention of individuals to get drunk when they choose to consume alcohol. There are additional factors that may play a part to exonerate a person’s accountability. It is difficult for people to recall the specifics of a situation when they become intoxicated; in some cases, accountability cannot be determined and the used of AELs can become unjustified. Overall, Alcohol Exclusion  Laws try to solve the issue of alcohol incidents in a way that produces more detriment than progress. A method to combat the issue of irresponsible drinking and intoxication in the emergency room within the US should not use AELs and financial leverage as one of its forefronts. In fact, a study that based its findings obtained from the Behavioral Risk Factor  Surveillance System nationwide survey that spanned twenty-four years from 1993-2017,  showed no real impact on binge drinking or increased alcohol consumption. [6] Given the downsides to AELs and its proven non-significant effects, several States have already repealed their AELs. For all these reasons, it would be beneficial to find an alternate method to address alcohol related issues within healthcare.

[1] Gregory, A. (16 Jun 2014). Nurses say drunk patients should be banned from A&E as ‘waste of resources’ UK:  Mirror. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nurses-say-drunk-patients-should-3706280 2 (Jan 2008).

[2] Alcohol Exclusion Laws. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.gov/files/810885.pdf.

[3] Glassman, J.H. (28 Apr 2022). Why don’t alcoholics get prescribed the medication they need?. NBC.  https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/alcohol-related-deaths-er-visits-rose-covid-solution-use- rcna26425.

[4] Azagba, S., Ebling, T., Hall, M., (2023). Health claims denial for alcohol intoxication: State laws and structural stigma. Wiley Online Library . https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acer.15153. 

[5] (7 Sep 2021). The Alcohol Exclusion Chart Denied Life Insurance Claim. https://www.lifeinsuranceattorney.com/blog/2021/september/the-alcohol-exclusion-state-chart-denied-life-in/.

[6] Azagba, S., Shan, L., Ebling, T., Wolfson, M., Hall, M., Chaloupka, F., (26 Nov 2022). Does state repeal of alcohol  exclusion laws increase problem drinking? National Institutes of Health . https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10099925/.

William Ngo

Second place winner of Voices in Bioethics' 2023 persuasive essay contest. 

Disclaimer: These essays are submissions for the 2023 essay contest and have not undergone peer review or editing.

Article Details

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License .

Preventing Spread of Respiratory Viruses When You’re Sick

  • Taking steps to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses when you are sick is a core prevention strategy to lower risk from respiratory viruses.
  • Core prevention strategies are important steps you can take to protect yourself and others from respiratory viruses.

Recommendation

essay about the rules of health and safety

When you may have a respiratory virus...‎

Stay home and away from others (including people you live with who are not sick) if you have respiratory virus symptoms that aren't better explained by another cause. These symptoms can include fever, chills, fatigue, cough, runny nose, and headache, among others.*

  • Your symptoms are getting better overall,  and
  • You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication).
  • Keep in mind that you may still be able to spread the virus that made you sick, even if you are feeling better. You are likely to be less contagious at this time, depending on factors like how long you were sick or how sick you were.
  • If you develop a fever or you start to feel worse after you have gone back to normal activities, stay home and away from others again until, for at least 24 hours, both are true: your symptoms are improving overall, and you have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication). Then take added precaution for the next 5 days.

For illustrative purposes, not to scale

Example 1: Person with fever and symptoms.

Example 1: Person with fever and symptoms.

Example 2: Person with fever but no other symptoms.

Example 2: Person with fever but no other symptoms.

Example 3: Person with fever and other symptoms, fever ends but other symptoms take longer to improve.

Example 3: Person with fever and other symptoms, fever ends but other symptoms take longer to improve.

Example 4: Person gets better and then gets a fever.

Example 4: Person gets better and then gets a fever.

If you never had symptoms but tested positive for a respiratory virus‎

You may be contagious. For the next 5 days: take added precaution, such as taking additional steps for cleaner air , hygiene , masks , physical distancing , and/or testing when you will be around other people indoors. This is especially important to protect people with factors that increase their risk of severe illness from respiratory viruses.

How it works

When you have a respiratory virus infection, you can spread it to others. How long someone can spread the virus depends on different factors, including how sick they are (severity) and how long their illness lasts (duration). This is not the same for everyone.

When, for at least 24 hours, your symptoms are getting better overall and you have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication), you are typically less contagious, but it still takes more time for your body to fully get rid of the virus. During this time, you may still be able to spread the virus to others. Taking precautions for the next 5 days can help reduce this risk. After this 5-day period, you are typically much less likely to be contagious. However, some people, especially people with weakened immune systems, can continue to spread the virus for a longer period of time. For COVID-19, taking an antigen  test can help you know how likely you are to spread the virus. A positive test tends to mean it is more likely that you can spread the virus to others.

Steps you can take

Individuals can.

  • Consider using additional prevention tools, such as taking steps for cleaner air , being diligent about hygiene , and using masks  when you’re home sick to protect others in your home. This can be especially helpful if you do not have space at home to stay entirely away from others.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (like trouble breathing or chest pain), seek emergency medical care immediately.

Organizations can

  • Advise people to stay home if they are sick.
  • Provide employees with paid time off and develop flexible leave and telework policies to support workers to stay home if sick or to care for sick family members.
  • Adopt flexible cancellation or refund policies for customers who are sick.

*Symptoms may include but are not limited to chest discomfort, chills, cough, decrease in appetite, diarrhea, fatigue (tiredness), fever or feeling feverish, headache, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, vomiting, weakness, wheezing.

CDC offers separate, specific guidance for healthcare settings ( COVID-19 , flu , and  general infection prevention and control ).  Federal civil rights laws  may require reasonable modifications or reasonable accommodations in various circumstances. Nothing in this guidance is intended to detract from or supersede those laws.

Exit Notification / Disclaimer Policy

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot attest to the accuracy of a non-federal website.
  • Linking to a non-federal website does not constitute an endorsement by CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the website.
  • You will be subject to the destination website's privacy policy when you follow the link.
  • CDC is not responsible for Section 508 compliance (accessibility) on other federal or private website.

CDC updates Covid isolation guidelines for people who test positive

A passenger wears a mask while riding a train in Washington, D.C.

People who test positive for Covid no longer need to isolate for five days , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The CDC’s new guidance now matches public health advice for flu and other respiratory illnesses: Stay home when you’re sick, but return to school or work once you’re feeling better and you’ve been without a fever for 24 hours.

The shift reflects sustained decreases in the most severe outcomes of Covid since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as a recognition that many people aren’t testing themselves for Covid anyway.

“Folks often don’t know what virus they have when they first get sick, so this will help them know what to do, regardless,” CDC director Dr. Mandy Cohen said during a media briefing Friday.

Over the past couple of years, weekly hospital admissions for Covid have fallen by more than 75%, and deaths have decreased by more than 90%, Cohen said.

“To put that differently, in 2021, Covid was the third leading cause of death in the United States. Last year, it was the 10th,” Dr. Brendan Jackson, head of respiratory virus response within the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during the briefing.

Many doctors have been urging the CDC to lift isolation guidance for months, saying it did little to stop the spread of Covid.

The experiences of California and Oregon , which previously lifted their Covid isolation guidelines, proved that to be true.

“Recent data indicate that California and Oregon, where isolation guidance looks more like CDC’s updated recommendations, are not experiencing higher Covid-19 emergency department visits or hospitalizations,” Jackson said.

Changing the Covid isolation to mirror what’s recommended for flu and other respiratory illnesses makes sense to Dr. David Margolius, the public health director for the city of Cleveland.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we are suffering from flu at a higher rate than Covid,” he said. “What this guidance will do is help to reinforce that— regardless of what contagious respiratory viral infection you have — stay home when you’re sick, come back when you’re better.”

Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious diseases expert at the Cleveland Clinic, said the new guidance would be beneficial in curbing the spread of all respiratory viruses.

“I think this is going to help us in the coming years to make sure that our numbers of influenza and RSV cases can also be cut down, not just Covid,” she said.

Latest news on Covid

  • Common Covid symptoms follow a pattern now, doctors say.
  • Covid during pregnancy can cause health issues in babies.
  • How big of a risk is coinfection with Covid and other viruses?

Still, the decision was likely to draw criticism from some clinicians who point to the fact that the U.S. logged 17,310 new Covid hospitalizations in the past week alone.

“It’s something that is likely to draw a wide array of opinions and perhaps even conflicting opinions,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, Seattle’s director of public health. “But [the CDC’s] rationale is sound in that the pandemic is now in a very different phase from where it was in 2021 or 2022 or 2023.”

Though the isolation guidelines have been wiped away, the CDC still encourages people to play it safe for five days after they are feeling better. That includes masking around vulnerable people and opening windows to improve the flow of fresh air indoors.

The majority of viral spread happens when people are the sickest. “As the days go on, less virus spreads,” Cohen said.

People at higher risk for severe Covid complications, such as the elderly, people with weak immune systems and pregnant women, may need to take additional precautions.

Dr. Katie Passaretti, chief epidemiologist at Atrium Health in Charlotte, said it was a “move in the positive direction.”

“We are continuing to edge into what the world looks like after Covid, with Covid being one of many respiratory viruses that are certain that circulate,” she said.

The new guidance is for the general public only, and does not include isolation guidelines in hospital settings, which is generally 10 days.

On Wednesday, the agency said that adults 65 and older should get a booster shot of the Covid vaccine this spring. It’s anticipated that the nation will experience an uptick in the illness later this summer.

Winter and summer waves of Covid have emerged over the past four years, with cases peaking in January and August, respectively, according to the  CDC .

Another, reformulated, shot is expected to be available and recommended this fall.

CDC’s main tips for reducing Covid spread:

  • Get the Covid vaccine whenever it is available. Cohen said that 95% of people who were hospitalized with Covid this past winter had not received the latest vaccine.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes, and wash hands frequently.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows, using air purifiers and gathering outside when possible.

essay about the rules of health and safety

Erika Edwards is a health and medical news writer and reporter for NBC News and "TODAY."

  • International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

The hand of a person with a pulse oximeter on their finger, with an illustration of the coronavirus in the background

UK report reveals bias within medical tools and devices

Experts say action needed as report finds minority ethnic people, women and those from deprived backgrounds at risk of poorer healthcare

Minority ethnic people, women and people from deprived communities are at risk of poorer healthcare because of biases within medical tools and devices, a report has revealed.

Among other findings, the Equity in Medical Devices: Independent Review has raised concerns over devices that use artificial intelligence (AI), as well as those that measure oxygen levels. The team behind the review said urgent action was needed.

Prof Frank Kee, the director of the centre for public health at Queen’s University Belfast and a co-author of the review, said: “We’d like an equity lens on the entire lifecycle of medical devices, from the initial testing, to recruitment of patients either in hospital or in the community, into the early phase studies and the implementation in the field after they are licensed,.”

The junior health minister Andrew Stephenson said: “Making sure the healthcare system works for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, is paramount to our values as a nation. It supports our wider work to create a fairer and simpler NHS.”

The government-commissioned review was set up by Sajid Javid in 2022 when he was health secretary after concerns were raised over the accuracy of pulse oximeter readings in Black and minority ethnic people.

The widely used devices were thrown into the spotlight due to their importance in healthcare during the Covid pandemic, where low oxygen levels were an important sign of serious illness.

The report has confirmed concerns pulse oximeters overestimate the amount of oxygen in the blood of people with dark skin, noting that while there was no evidence of this affecting care in the NHS, harm has been found in the US with such biases leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment, as well as worse organ function and death, in Black patients.

The team members stress they are not calling for the devices to be avoided. Instead the review puts forward a number of measures to improve the use of pulse oximeters in people of different skin tones, including the need to look at changes in readings rather than single readings, while it also provides advice on how to develop and test new devices to ensure they work well for patients of all ethnicities.

Concerns over AI-based devices were also highlighted by the report, including the potential for such technology to exacerbate the under-diagnosis of cardiac conditions in women, lead to discrimination based on patients’ socioeconomic status, and result in under-diagnosis of skin cancers in people with darker skin tones. Concerns over the latter, they say, is down to the fact AI devices are largely trained on images of lighter skin tones.

The report also noted problems with polygenic risk scores – which are often used to provide a measure of an individual’s disease risk due to their genes.

“Major genetic datasets that polygenic risk scores use are overwhelmingly on people of European ancestry, which means that they may not be applicable to people of other ancestries,” said Enitan Carrol, professor of paediatric infection at the University of Liverpool and a co-author of the review.

However, attempts to correct biases can also be problematic. Among examples highlighted by the report are race-based corrections applied to measurements from devices known as spirometers that are used to assess lung function and diagnose respiratory conditions, have themselves been found to contain biases.

Prof Habib Naqvi, the chief executive of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, welcomed the findings, adding the review acknowledged the need for immediate modifications, equity assessments and tighter guidance and regulation around pulse oximeters and other medical devices.

“Access to better health should not be determined by your ethnicity nor by the colour of your skin; medical devices therefore need to be fit-for-purpose for all communities,” he said.

“It’s clear the lack of diverse representation in health research, the absence of robust equity considerations and the scarcity of co-production approaches, have led to racial bias in medical devices, clinical assessments and in other healthcare interventions.”

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Occupational Health and Safety and Workplace Accidents Essay

Hazards, risks, and injuries, unsafe conditions and unsafe acts, the steps of accident investigation, the internal responsibility system and duties, the types of accidents at the workplace, works cited.

One of the most important responsibilities of an employer is to provide his or her employees with a safe and healthy workplace. Occupational health and safety involve a workplace that is free of any hazards, risks, or injuries. A Hazard refers to an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon within the workplace that is a source of danger and can cause an event to result in one way or another (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 121). Hazards classify as biological, chemical, or physical. Risks refer to the possibility of harm or infection occurring given that exposure to an infectious agent or a source of danger has occurred. Risks within the workplace involve possibilities of one incurring a misfortune.

Injuries refer to any physical damage to the body caused by violence or accidents within the workplace (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 123). The three elements have a close relationship because they influence each other. Hazards expose people to risks within the workplace. The more someone has greater exposure to risk, the higher the chances of getting injuries. A hazard can cause harm while a risk is the chance of harm occurring. Injury is the extent of harm.

Unsafe conditions and unsafe acts are very important concepts in understanding occupational health and safety. Injuries and accidents are very common within the workplace, and these two elements are some of the causes. An unsafe act refers to human action, activity, or execution of a task in a manner, which poses a threat to the health, and/or safety of an individual within a workplace (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 364).

Unsafe acts involve human factors, thus they are not easy to identify and respond to within the workplace. Any person within the workplace can make an unsafe act. Examples of unsafe acts within the workplace include insubordination, operating machines without the necessary expertise, removing workplace safety instructions and devices, failure to wear protective clothing, failure to provide warning, and being in dangerous positions among others (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 366).

On the other hand, an unsafe condition refers to a situation within a workplace that has the potential to cause injury to people or property. Unsafe conditions expose one to various risks, thus hard to avoid them. Most workplaces are typically unsafe places for people to be, because of their numerous hazards that make occupants vulnerable to harm. Examples of unsafe conditions within the workplace include poor housekeeping, congestion, lack of protective clothing, inadequate or lack of warning signs, poor ventilation, and defective tools among others (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 369).

One of the nightmares that most people dread within the workplace is an accident. Workplace accidents are common, despite the employment laws providing strict guidelines to employers in order to ensure that all workers are safe. Therefore, it is important for employers to have a reliable and effective plan for dealing with such cases whenever they arise in the workplace. Occupational health and safety experts, advise all employers to have an accident plan that provides the essential steps of investigating an accident (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 144). There are four crucial steps taken when conducting an investigation of an internal accident.

The first step is an examination of the accident scene to determine what happened. This step should give a report on the tools involved in the accident, the condition of their user manuals, their maintenance condition, and availability of warning signs. The information gathered applies in determining the cause of the accident (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 145). The services of a professional investigator can be sourced if the cause of the accident is not easily identifiable.

The second step is establishing the visible facts of the accident scene. This happens by taking photographs and measurements of the whole scene. Forensic experts use the photographs and measurements to develop drawings that show the relation between the different elements collected from the accident scene. This step is all about the visual evidence, and its impact on understanding the cause of the accident (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 147).

The third step involves speaking to the witnesses of the accident. In conducting an internal accident investigation, it is necessary to speak to people who witness the accident, as well as people who might have any form of lead information about the same. The best people to interview for any lead information are people with similar job descriptions as those involved in the accident, supervisors, and employees trained to give first aid (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 150).

It is also important to talk to colleagues that the affected people associate closely with within the workplace. One important rule that investigators need to follow, is to ensure that all people who give written responses sign against them for the sake of reference and avoiding biased reactions. The fourth step involves reviewing all the collected data, as well as the work records of the employees involved in the accident.

This should give a clearer picture of the cause of the accident, and steps to prevent a similar mistake from happening at another given time. This step seeks to answer a number of questions for investigators regarding the accident (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 154). These questions focus on the intention of those injured, their qualifications for performing the task, work experience of those involved, choice of tools used, the availability of supervision, and any potential hazards on the scene of the accident.

One of the workplace characteristics is the availability of different types of jobs, whose duties and responsibilities vary. Everyone within the workplace has an ethical responsibility to ensure that duties are performed within the required standards. People also need to be accountable for their actions and take full responsibility whenever required to do so (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 428). Importantly, all these duties and responsibilities ought to apply in a safe and healthy workplace that is free of any kind of hazards. The combination of all these workplace elements creates an internal responsibility system.

The internal responsibility system integrates into an organization’s corporate culture, and it helps to allow all people within a workplace to contribute towards the attainment of occupational health and safety. This workplace strategy applies the format of a chart, where each employee is assigned a health and safety goal to promote and achieve within the workplace (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 430). Each employee holds full responsibility for his or her assigned element and is accountable to the rest of the employees.

The internal responsibility system applies a bottom to top responsibility approach. This means that everyone is answerable to the person above them. The basic structure of this system has the director at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the president, vice president, manager, supervisor, and worker respectively. Although these ranks have different levels of responsibility, people can interact freely with those above or below them for the sake of solving health and safety challenges within the workplace (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 436).

The duty of the internal responsibility system is to solve the dilemma of who ought to ensure the health and safety of employees within the workplace. Organizations that apply this strategy in their workplaces often experience safe and more secure environments characterized by low-risk levels. Some organizations are likely to record increased productivity and high employee morale to work. The reason for this is that the internal responsibility system helps to develop employee elements such as their ingenuity, acquaintance levels, management qualities, and better work experience (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 439).

The first accident type is working at risky speeds that are either too fast or too slow. The speed at which one does his or her work can compromise their safety because they can easily forget to observe safety rules. A good example is loading a truck with goods within a short time (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 66). This accident is avoidable by considering the age and physical condition of all employees. The second type is insubordination accidents.

It is important for workers to stick to jobs they are qualified to do. A good example is an accountant doing the work of a systems manager. The third type is poor storage accidents. When equipment and tools are stored poorly within the workplace, they are likely to cause accidents (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 69). Employers need to train their workers in good housekeeping skills in order to avoid accidents (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 72).

The fourth type is complacency accidents. Certain employees feel comfortable with their achievements and think they can try out new things. Employees need to avoid taking chances through shortcuts but instead stick to the safety regulation for their work. The fifth type is taking on risky body positions that expose employees to danger. For example, maintaining an erect upright position on top of chairs and tables is very dangerous (Bohle, Lamm & Quinlan 77). Employees need to learn better methods of executing their duties.

Bohle, Philip, Lamm Felicity & Quinlan Michael. Managing Occupational Health and Safety: A Multidisciplinary Approach . New York: Macmillan Education, 2010. Print.

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Guest Essay

What the ‘Rust’ Shooting Case Is Really About

A building on the set of the film “Rust” along with an image of Alec Baldwin.

By Kaj Larsen

Mr. Larsen is a military technical adviser, documentary producer and stunt performer who served for 13 years as an officer in the Navy SEALs.

In my first job as a military adviser on a film set, I witnessed the stark contrast between the gun safety culture of my Navy SEAL days and the cavalier attitude toward firearms that permeates Hollywood. During a break in filming, the lead actor, fresh off a stint as a teen heartthrob, picked up a gun and began waving it around, joking with the cast. Instinctively, I leaped toward the actor, grabbed the gun and gave him a hard thump to the chest, admonishing him for “flagging” the entire crew — using the military term for aiming a firearm at someone.

Later, I pulled him aside and drilled into him the cardinal rules of gun safety, rules that become second nature to anyone who handles firearms professionally: Always treat a gun as loaded. Never point it at anything you don’t intend to shoot. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire. These aren’t optional guidelines but ironclad laws. If you’re going to handle firearms, even those loaded with blanks, I explained, you have a duty to master these principles.

The disregard for basic gun safety I witnessed that day wasn’t an isolated incident. It was emblematic of a problem in the film industry and a symptom of the profound contradictions in Hollywood’s attitudes toward firearms.

On movie sets, real guns, often modified to fire blanks, are commonplace. Gunfights and shootouts are staples of blockbuster entertainment, and the characters wielding those weapons, from James Bond to John Wick, are glamorized and idolized. Violence — often stylized gun violence — has long been a lucrative part of the Hollywood ecosystem. At the same time, Hollywood is perceived as a bastion of liberal politics and a leading voice in the push for gun control. After mass shootings, many actors and executives make impassioned pleas for stricter regulations on firearms. They use their influential platform to turn public opinion against American gun culture.

It’s a jarring contradiction, one that the industry has long ignored — but one that I believe it can no longer avoid confronting. The tragic shooting on the set of “Rust” in 2021, which claimed the life of a cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, has cast a harsh spotlight on the consequences of a cavalier attitude toward guns. The details of the episode paint a picture of an environment where basic gun safety protocols were neglected. Live rounds were mixed with blanks. Firearms were handled with shocking nonchalance. The result was a cascading series of errors that culminated in a preventable death.

The conviction last week of the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, for involuntary manslaughter, and an assistant director’s plea of no contest to a charge of negligent handling of a deadly weapon, underscore the systemic nature of the problem. It’s not just about individual lapses in judgment but about a broader culture of laxity and disregard for the lethal potential of firearms on set.

The “Rust” tragedy should be a wake-up call for Hollywood. It demands a top-to-bottom re-evaluation of how guns are handled in the entertainment industry. The industry needs stronger safety protocols and more rigorous training, in conjunction with experienced and qualified armorers. It needs actors to educate themselves and respect the deadly power of guns, even those firing blanks. It needs producers and directors to prioritize safety over expediency. And it needs a system where anyone can speak up about unsafe practices without fear of reprisal.

Since Ms. Hutchins’s death, some in the industry have begun to take action. Guy Ritchie, a veteran action movie director known for films that prominently feature firearms, announced he would no longer use real guns on his sets, instead opting for airsoft pellet weapons. The actor Dwayne Johnson, whose production company is behind action films like “Red Notice,” committed to avoiding real firearms on his sets, even if it meant increased visual effects costs. Over 200 cinematographers also signed an open letter calling for a ban on functional firearms in filmmaking and refusing to work on sets that use them.

These are encouraging steps. But these actions need to be part of a fundamental cultural shift — one that brings to film sets the seriousness and respect for firearms that are drilled into military and law enforcement professionals.

The very language Hollywood uses, particularly the term “prop gun,” is emblematic of the problem. The phrase “prop gun” suggests something inauthentic, a harmless facsimile of a real weapon. This is a dangerous misnomer. The guns used in films are typically real firearms, often modified to fire blank rounds or to be nonfunctional. By referring to them as mere props, the industry perpetuates a false sense of safety, downplaying the genuine risks these weapons pose.

The military’s approach to gun safety is a stark counterpoint to Hollywood’s complacency. In the military, every round, whether blank or live, is treated as potentially lethal. Any exercise involving firearms involves multiple, meticulous safety checks. The final responsibility rests with the individual pulling the trigger, who must confirm the weapon’s safety before firing. It’s a culture of uncompromising discipline and accountability, where the consequences of complacency are well understood.

The most important lesson Hollywood can learn from the military is an ethic of shared responsibility — that everyone, regardless of rank, has a duty to ensure safety. In the Navy, if a young sailor crashes a ship while the captain sleeps, both are held responsible. In 2023 alone, the Navy relieved 16 commanding officers, some almost certainly because of the actions of their subordinates. That accountability is what’s sorely lacking in Hollywood.

The path forward is clear, if not easy. Hollywood must adopt a new ethic, one that treats guns with the seriousness they deserve. It must foster a culture where safety is paramount, where no one is too important or too busy to follow basic protocols. It must train its talent, its crews and its leadership to view gun safety not as an optional extra but as a core competency and a moral imperative.

The film industry has a unique power to shape culture, to lead society in grappling with complex issues. But it can’t authentically take on the debate around America’s relationship with guns until it resolves its own internal contradictions. It can’t advocate responsible gun laws while simultaneously glamorizing reckless gun use. And it can’t demand accountability from others while avoiding it on its own film sets.

Kaj Larsen is a military technical adviser, documentary producer and stunt performer who served for 13 years as an officer in the Navy SEALs.

Photographs by Gabriela Campos/AFP, via Getty Images, and Kevin Mohatt/Reuters

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The Golden Age of American Jews Is Ending

Anti-Semitism on the right and the left threatens to bring to a close an unprecedented period of safety and prosperity for Jewish Americans—and demolish the liberal order they helped establish.

photo-illustration with 18 photos of Jewish celebrities including Bob Dylan, Henry Winkler, Barbra Streisand, + more plus lines of text in red and blue

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Updated at 1:35 p.m. ET on March 13, 2024. This article was featured in the One Story to Read Today newsletter. Sign up for it here .

Stacey Zolt Hara was in her office in downtown San Francisco when a text from her 16-year-old daughter arrived: “I’m scared,” she wrote. Her classmates at Berkeley High School were preparing to leave their desks and file into the halls, part of a planned “walkout” to protest Israel. Like many Jewish students, she didn’t want to participate. It was October 18, 11 days after the Hamas invasion of southern Israel.

Zolt Hara told her daughter to wait in her classroom. She was trying to project calm. A public-relations executive, Zolt Hara had moved her family from Chicago to Berkeley six years earlier, hoping to find a community that shared her progressive values. Her family had developed a deep sense of belonging there.

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But a moral fervor was sweeping over Berkeley High that morning. Around 10:30, the walkout began. Jewish parents traded panicked reports from their children. Zolt Hara heard that kids were chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan that suggests the elimination of Israel. Rumors spread about other, less coy phrases shouted in the hallways, carrying intimations of violence. Jewish students were said to be in tears. Parents were texting one another ideas about where in the school their children could hide. Zolt Hara placed a call to the dean of students. By her own admission, she was hysterical. She says the dean hung up on her.

By the early afternoon the walkout was over, but Zolt Hara and other Jewish parents worried that it was a prelude to something worse. They joined Google Groups and WhatsApp chains so they could share information. Zolt Hara organized a petition, pleading with the school district to take anti-Semitism more seriously. It quickly received more than 1,300 signatures.

Most worrying was what parents kept hearing about teachers, both in Berkeley and in the surrounding school districts. They seemed to be using their classrooms to mold students into advocates for a maximalist vision of Palestine. A group of activists within the Oakland Education Association, that city’s teachers’ union, sponsored a “teach-in.” A video trumpeting the event urged: “Apply your labor power to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.” An estimated 70 teachers set aside their normal curriculum to fix students’ attention on Gaza.

Even classes with no discernible connection to international affairs joined the teach-in. Its centerpiece was a webinar titled “ From Gaza to Oakland: How Does the Issue Connect to Us? ,” in which local activists implored the kids to join them on the streets. They told the students—in a predominantly Black and Latino school district—that the Israeli military works hand in glove with American police forces, sharing tips and tactics. “Repression there ends up cycling back to repression here,” an activist named Anton explained. Elementary-school teachers, whose students were too young for the webinar, were given a list of books to use in their classes. One of them, Handala’s Return , described how a “group of bullies called Zionists wanted our land so they stole it by force and hurt many people.”

The same zeal was gripping schools in Berkeley. Zolt Hara learned from another parent about an ethnic-studies class in which the teacher had described the slaughter of some Israelis on October 7 as the result of friendly fire. She saw a disturbing image that another teacher had presented in an art class, of a fist breaking through a Star of David. (Officials at Berkeley High School did not respond to requests for comment.) In her son’s middle school, there were signs on classroom walls that read Teach Palestine .

Zolt Hara didn’t need to imagine how kids might respond to these lessons. She heard about incidents at her children’s schools. One kid walked up to a Jewish student playing what he called a “Nazi salute song” on his phone. Another said something in German and then added, “I don’t like your people.” A Manichaean view of the conflict even filtered down to the lowest grades in Berkeley. According to one parent complaint to the principal of Washington Elementary School, a second grader suggested that students divide into Israeli and Palestinian “teams,” and another announced that Palestinians couldn’t be friends with Jews.

On November 17, the middle school that Zolt Hara’s son attends staged its own walkout. Zolt Hara was relieved that her son was traveling for a family event that day. But she heard about video of the protest, recorded on a parent’s phone. I tracked down the footage and watched it myself. “Are you Jewish?” one mop-haired tween asks another, seemingly unaware of any adult presence. “No way,” the second kid replies. “I fucking hate them.” Another blurts, “Kill Israel.” A student laughingly attempts to start a chant of “KKK.”

photo of graffiti reading "Annihilate ISRAEL! stolen land"

On a damp morning this winter, I joined about 40 kids assembled in a classroom at a public high school in the East Bay for a meeting of the Jewish Student Union. I promised that I wouldn’t identify their school in the hopes that they might speak freely, without fear of retribution from teachers or peers. The first boy to raise his hand proudly announced that he supported a cease-fire. But as the conversation progressed, students began to recall how painful their school’s walkout had felt. Their classmates had left them alone with teachers, who they suspected would think less of them for having stayed put. At every stop in their education in this progressive community, they had learned about a world divided between oppressors and the oppressed—and now they felt that they were being accused of being the bad guys, despite having nothing to do with events on the other side of the world, and despite the fact that Hamas had initiated the current war by invading Israeli communities and murdering an estimated 1,200 people .

At the end of the session a student in a kippah, puffer jacket, and T-shirt pulled me aside. He said he wanted to speak privately, because he didn’t want to risk crying in front of his peers. After October 7, he said, his school life, as a visibly identifiable Jew, had become unbearable. Walking down the halls, kids would shout “Free Palestine” at him. They would make the sound of explosions, as if he were personally responsible for the bombardment of Gaza. They would tell him to pick up pennies. As he was walking into the gym to use one of its courts, a kid told him, “There goes the Jew, taking everyone’s land.” I asked if he’d ever told any of this to an administrator. “Nothing would change,” he said. Based on how other local authorities had responded to anti-Semitism, I didn’t doubt him.

Like many American Jews , I once considered anti-Semitism a threat largely emanating from the right. It was Donald Trump who attracted the allegiance of white supremacists and freely borrowed their tropes. A closing ad of his 2016 presidential campaign flashed images of prominent Jews—Lloyd Blankfein, Janet Yellen, and George Soros—as it decried global special interests bleeding the people dry.

Trump’s victory inspired anti-Semitic hate groups, long consigned to the shadows, to strut with impunity. Less than two weeks after Trump’s election, the white nationalist Richard Spencer came to Washington, D.C. , and proclaimed, “Hail Trump! Hail our people!” as supporters responded with Nazi salutes. In August 2017, angry men carried tiki torches through Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting , “Jews will not replace us.” In 2018, the consequences of violent anti-Semitic rhetoric became tangible: At the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 11 people were fatally shot . The following year, on the last day of Passover, at a synagogue in a San Diego suburb, a gunman killed one and wounded three others, including a rabbi .

After each incident, my anxiety about the safety of my own family and synagogue would spike, but I consoled myself with the thought that once Trump disappeared from the scene, the explosion of Jew hatred would recede. America would revert to its essential self: the most comfortable homeland in the Jewish diaspora.

From the May 2023 issue: Is Holocaust education making anti-Semitism worse?

That reassuring thought required downplaying the anti-Semitism that had begun to appear on the left well before October 7—on college campuses, among progressive activists, even on the fringes of the Democratic Party. It required minimizing Representative Ilhan Omar’s insinuation about Jewish control of politics —“It’s all about the Benjamins baby”—as an ignorant gaffe. And it meant dismissing intense outbreaks of anti-Zionist harassment by pro-Palestinian demonstrators, which coincided with tensions in the Middle East, as a passing storm.

Part of the reason I failed to appreciate the extent of the anti-Semitism on the left is that I assumed its criticisms of the Israeli government were, at bottom, a harsher version of my own. I opposed the proliferation of settlements in the West Bank, the callousness that military occupation required, and the religious zealotry that had begun to infuse the country’s right wing, including its current ruling coalition.

photo of people hugging in street with uniformed police behind

Such criticisms were not those of a dissident— the majority of American Jews share them . The Palestinian leadership has a long record of abject obstructionism, historical denialism, and violent irredentism, but American Jews heap blame on recalcitrant right-wing Israeli governments, too. Polling by the Pew Research Center in 2020 found that only one in three American Jews said they felt that the Israeli government was “sincere” in its pursuit of peace. But whatever criticism American Jews leveled against Israel, the anger was born of love. Eight in 10 described Israel as either “essential” or “important” to their Jewish identity. And they still held out hope for peace. In that same poll, 63 percent of American Jews said they considered a two-state solution plausible. Jews were, in fact, more likely than the overall U.S. population to believe in the possibility of peaceful coexistence with an independent Palestine.

Among the brutal epiphanies of October 7 was this: A disconcertingly large number of Israel’s critics on the left did not share that vision of peaceful coexistence, or believe Jews had a right to a nation of their own. After Hamas’s rampage of rape, kidnapping, and murder, a history professor at Cornell named Russell Rickford said Palestinians were understandably “exhilarated by this challenge to the monopoly of violence.” He added, “I was exhilarated.” A student at the same university was arrested and charged with posting online threats about slitting the throats of Jewish males and strafing the kosher dining hall with gunfire. In Philadelphia, a mob descended on a falafel restaurant, chanting about the Israeli American co-owner’s complicity in genocide. Over the three-month period following the Hamas attacks, the Anti-Defamation League recorded 56 episodes of physical violence targeting Jews and 1,347 incidents of harassment. That 13-week span contained more anti-Semitic incidents than the entirety of 2021—at the time the worst year since the ADL had begun keeping count, in 1979.

I don’t want to dismiss the anger that the left feels about the terrible human cost of the Israeli counterinvasion of Gaza, or denounce criticism of Israel as inherently anti-Semitic—especially because I share some of those criticisms. Nor do I believe that anti-Zionist is a term that should be considered axiomatically interchangeable with anti-Semite . The elimination of Israel, in my opinion, would be a profound catastrophe for the Jewish people. But I have read idealistic critics of Israel, such as the late historian Tony Judt , who imagined that it could be replaced by a binational state, where Jews and Palestinians live side by side under one democratic government. That strikes me as naive in the extreme—especially after the Hamas pogrom of October 7—and very likely the end of Jewish existence in the Levant. But not everything that is terrible for the Jews is anti-Semitic.

Anti-Semitism is a mental habit, deeply embedded in Christian and Muslim thinking, stretching back at least as far as the accusation that the Jews murdered the son of God. It’s a tendency to fixate on Jews, to place them at the center of the narrative, overstating their role in society and describing them as the root cause of any unwanted phenomena—a centrality that seems strange, given that Jews constitute about 0.2 percent of the global population. Though it shape-shifts over time, anti-Semitism returns to the same essential complaint: that Jews are cunning, bloodthirsty, and mad for power. Anti-Zionism often takes a similar form: the dehumanization, the unilateral casting of blame, and the fetishizing of Jewish villainy.

Liberal Jews once celebrated Israel as the lone democracy in a distinctly undemocratic region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition of theocrats and messianists seems bent on shredding the basis for that claim . But many governments in the world share these undesirable traits. Still, no one calls for the eradication of Hungary or El Salvador or India. No one defaces Chinese restaurants in San Francisco because Beijing imprisons Uyghurs in concentration camps and occupies Tibet.

The anti-Zionism that has flourished on the left in recent years doesn’t stop with calls for an end to the occupation of the West Bank. It espouses a blithe desire to eliminate the world’s only Jewish-majority nation, valorizes the homicidal campaign against its existence, and seeks to hold members of the Jewish diaspora to account for the sins of a country they don’t live in and for a government they didn’t elect. In so doing, this faction of the left places itself in the terrible lineage of attempts to erase Jewry—and, in turn, stirs ancient and not-so-ancient existential fears.

Nowhere is this more fully on display than in the Bay Area. After October 7, protesters flooded city-council meetings, demanding cease-fire resolutions and rejecting any attempt to include clauses condemning Hamas for the rape and murder of Jews. One viral video compiled enraged citizen comments at an Oakland city-council meeting. These citizens weren’t just showing solidarity for the people of Gaza, but angrily amplifying wild conspiracy theories. One woman declared, in the style of a 9/11 truther, that “Israel murdered their own people on October 7.” Another, in the manner of a Holocaust denier, described the events of that day as a “fabricated narrative.”

For months, the Berkeley city council resisted the pressure to pass a cease-fire resolution; the mayor regarded foreign policy as far beyond its jurisdiction . But the pressure grew so intense that the council could hardly conduct any other business. Protesters disrupted official meetings, forcing the mayor to keep adjourning deliberations to another room where the public was not allowed. Police offered to escort council members to their cars after meetings. The mayor’s unwillingness to condemn Israel was anomalous, even in his own city. On December 4, the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board voted to endorse a cease-fire .

Impassioned support for the Palestinian cause metastasized into the hatred of Jews. Anti-Semitism has become part of the landscape. In 2021, a community space in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, owned by a progressive gay Jewish activist, was defaced with messages including Zionist pigz. After October 7, the windows of Smitten Ice Cream, owned by a Jewish woman, were smashed and spray-painted with the words Out the Mission .

photo of two people looking at debris from Oakland menorah on grass and sidewalk

During Hanukkah, a menorah sponsored by Chabad Oakland and perched on the shore of Lake Merritt, in the center of the city, was torn apart by its branches and hurled into the water , replaced by graffiti reading your org is dying, we’re gonna find you, you’re on fucking alert . Oakland Public Works quickly painted over the message and other anti-Semitic graffiti. But when I walked the trail around the lake several weeks after Hanukkah, I found a weathered metal box, built to display a work of public art. On its side was a laminated message titled “The World We Wish to See.” What followed was a lyrical vision of liberation that imagined a future in which “all beings are treated with dignity.” But whatever display had once existed in the box had been removed. What was left were the etched words Zionist KILLER .

In the hatred that I witnessed in the Bay Area, and that has been evident on college campuses and in progressive activist circles nationwide, I’ve come to see left-wing anti-Semitism as characterized by many of the same violent delusions as the right-wing strain. This is not an accident of history. Though right- and left-wing anti-Semitism may have emerged in different ways, for different reasons, both are essentially attacks on an ideal that once dominated American politics, an ideal that American Jews championed and, in an important sense, co-authored. Over the course of the 20th century, Jews invested their faith in a distinct strain of liberalism that combined robust civil liberties, the protection of minority rights, and an ethos of cultural pluralism. They embraced this brand of liberalism because it was good for America—and good for the Jews. It was their fervent hope that liberalism would inoculate America against the world’s oldest hatred.

For several generations, it worked. Liberalism helped unleash a Golden Age of American Jewry, an unprecedented period of safety, prosperity, and political influence. Jews, who had once been excluded from the American establishment, became full-fledged members of it. And remarkably, they achieved power by and large without having to abandon their identity. In faculty lounges and television writers’ rooms, in small magazines and big publishing houses, they infused the wider culture with that identity. Their anxieties became American anxieties. Their dreams became American dreams.

But that era is drawing to a close. America’s ascendant political movements—MAGA on one side, the illiberal left on the other—would demolish the last pillars of the consensus that Jews helped establish. They regard concepts such as tolerance, fairness, meritocracy, and cosmopolitanism as pernicious shams. The Golden Age of American Jewry has given way to a golden age of conspiracy, reckless hyperbole, and political violence, all tendencies inimical to the democratic temperament. Extremist thought and mob behavior have never been good for Jews. And what’s bad for Jews, it can be argued, is bad for America.

I grew up at the apex of the Golden Age. The nation’s sartorial aesthetic was the invention of Ralph Lifshitz, an alumnus of the Manhattan Talmudical Academy before he became the denim-clad Ralph Lauren. The national authority on sex was a diminutive bubbe, Dr. Ruth. Schoolkids in Indiana read Anne Frank’s diary. The Holocaust memoirist Elie Wiesel appeared on the nightly news as an arbiter of public morality. The most-watched television show was Seinfeld . Even Gentiles knew the words to Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song,” which earned a place in the canon of festive music annually played on FM radio. Jews accounted for roughly 2 percent of the nation’s population at the time , but I’d estimate that my undergraduate class at Columbia University was one-third Jewish; soon, a third of the justices on the Supreme Court would be Jewish as well. In 2000, Joe Lieberman, a Shabbat-observant Jew with a wife named Hadassah, fell 537 votes short of becoming vice president. None of these occurrences sparked a backlash worthy of note.

photo of Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander walking and talking on set with cameras

By the mid-’90s, experts had declared the end of anti-Semitism. It persisted, of course, in the dark corners of American political culture—in the wacky cosmology of the Nation of Islam and in the malevolent rantings of David Duke, the ubiquitous ex-Klansman—but that proved the point. The only Jew haters to be found were hopelessly fringe; anti-Semitism disappeared from polite conversation. Leonard Dinnerstein, a historian who devoted his life’s work to studying anti-Semitism, concluded his magnum opus , published in 1994, with the admission that his scholarly obsession was becoming a relic: “It has declined in potency and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”

That last sentence was an expression of triumphalism, rendered in the spirit of the times. Like the end of history, the end of anti-Semitism was a post–Cold War reverie, a naive declaration of a golden age without end. American Jews now worried that they might become too accepted. The great anxiety of the fin de siècle was intermarriage.

The threat of assimilation had frightened the Orthodox Jews who came to the United States during the great wave of immigration in the last decades of the 19th century. Fathers who had fled the Pale of Settlement feared that their sons would trade ancestral traditions for the allure of American culture. (A quite popular, very American musical is energized by these anxieties.) One of those sons, however, made it his intellectual project to find a way for Jews to enjoy the bounties of American society without having to fully abandon their Jewishness.

Born in Silesia in 1882, the eldest of eight, Horace Kallen had a preordained calling: to become a rabbi like his father. But a Boston truant officer forced him, against his parents’ wishes, to attend a secular grammar school. This set him on the path to Harvard, where he paid his way by reading meters for the Dorchester Gaslight Company. Kallen never felt at ease with patrician classmates like Franklin D. Roosevelt, though the philosopher William James embraced him as a protégé.

Kallen’s breakthrough came in the course of an argument with another Jew. In 1908, the British-born playwright Israel Zangwill had a hit called The Melting-Pot , a melodrama about a pogrom survivor who sets out to marry a Christian woman in the hopes that he will no longer be haunted by his identity. This vision of assimilation was a warmed-over version of the devil’s bargain that Western Europeans had offered Jews ever since Napoleon: In exchange for the rights of citizenship, Jews would have to give up their distinctive identity.

Yair Rosenberg: How to be anti-Semitic and get away with it

Kallen didn’t want to surrender his identity. He wasn’t religious, but he had read Spinoza and devoured the works of the early Zionist thinkers. At Harvard, he co-founded the Menorah Society, a Jewish affinity group. His rebuttal to Zangwill took the form of unabashed patriotism. In essays that were intellectual bombshells at the time, Kallen extolled the mongrel nature of American society, the phenomenon known as hyphenation. Harvard’s Brahmin elite believed that newcomers must assimilate in full, commit to what they called “100 percent Americanism.” But to Kallen, the hyphen was the essence of democracy. He described America as a “symphony of civilization,” an intermingling of cultures that resulted in a society far more dynamic than most of the countries back in the Old World. The genius of America was that it didn’t coerce any minority group into abandoning its marks of difference.

photo of man in glasses and bow tie

That argument was idealistic, though also self-interested. Kallen’s polemics implicitly targeted the Protestant monopoly controlling academia, politics, and every other corner of the establishment, which reverted to desperate measures to block the ascent of Jews , imposing quotas at universities and restrictive housing covenants in well-to-do neighborhoods. His ideas were emblematic of an emerging strain of Jewish political philosophy, a set of arguments that would define American Jewry for generations.

The sons and daughters of immigrants may have dabbled in socialism, but in the 1930s and ’40s, liberalism became the house politics of the Jewish people. Walter Lippmann, a descendant of German Jews, first used the term liberal in the American context, to describe a new center-left vision of the state that was neither socialist nor laissez-faire. Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish justice on the Supreme Court, conceptualized a new, expansive vision of civil liberties. Lillian Wald and Henry Moskowitz co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in the belief that all minorities deserved the same protections. Jews became enthusiastic supporters of the New Deal, which staved off radical movements on the left and the right that tended to hunt for Jewish scapegoats. As a Yiddish joke went, Jewish theology consisted of die velt (“this world”), yene velt (“the world to come”), and Roosevelt.

The historian Marc Dollinger titled his 2000 narrative of Jewish liberalism Quest for Inclusion . Jews set out to achieve that goal procedurally—opposing prayer in public school, knocking down discriminatory housing laws, establishing new fair-employment rules. But it was also a project of mythmaking and dream-casting. Widely read mid-century intellectuals such as Louis Hartz, Daniel Boorstin, and Max Lerner wrote books reimagining America as the home of a benevolent centrism—tolerant, cosmopolitan, unique in the history of nations.

Reality began to resemble the myth: In the years following World War II—and especially as the world began to comprehend the extent of the Nazi genocide—a liberal consensus took hold, and anti-Semitism receded. After Auschwitz, even three-martini Jewish jokes at the country club felt tinged by the horrors. In 1937, the American edition of Roget’s Thesaurus had listed cunning , rich , extortioner , and heretic as synonyms for Jew . At that time, nearly half of Americans said Jews were less honest in business than others. By 1964, only 28 percent agreed with that assessment . It became cliché to refer to America as a “Judeo-Christian nation.” Quotas at universities fell to the side.

As anti-Semitism faded, American Jewish civilization exploded in a rush of creativity. For a time, the great Jewish novel—books by Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, and Bernard Malamud, inflected with Yiddish and references to pickled herring—was the great American novel. Under the influence of Lenny Bruce, Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks, Elaine May, Gilda Radner, Woody Allen, and many others, American comedy appropriated the Jewish joke, and the ironic sensibility contained within, as its own.

During the Golden Age, Jews created new genres of Americana, and in turn remade America’s image of itself, through the idealized vision of the heartland found in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! ; the folk revival popularized by Bob Dylan, Art Garfunkel, and Paul Simon; the movies mythologizing the decency of the American Everyman produced by David O. Selznick, Louis B. Mayer, and Jack Warner. (To say that “the Jews” run Hollywood is conspiratorial; to say that Jews founded it is factual.) Only in America could Jews—Irving Berlin, George Wyle, Sammy Cahn—write the Christmas songbook.

It wasn’t just mass culture. The New York Intellectuals, a group with a name as euphemistic as it sounds, acquired a priestly authority in the realm of aesthetics and political ideas, and included the likes of Alfred Kazin, Clement Greenberg, Irving Howe, and Susan Sontag. Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg ushered second-wave feminism into the world. Jews became the prophetic face of American science (J. Robert Oppenheimer) and the salvific one of American medicine (Jonas Salk). The intellectual rewards of Jewish liberation could be measured in medals: Approximately 15 percent of all Nobel Prize winners are American Jews.

In the Golden Age, Jews in America embraced Israel. Enjoying their political and cultural ascendance, they looked to the new Jewish state not as a necessary refuge—they were more than comfortable on the Upper West Side and in Squirrel Hill and Brentwood—but as a powerful rebuttal to the old stereotypes about Jewish weakness, especially after the Israeli military’s victory in the Six-Day War of 1967. As The New York Times ’ Thomas Friedman has put it , American Jews “said to themselves, ‘My God, look who we are! We have power! We do not fit the Shylock image, we are ace pilots; we are not the cowering timid Jews who get sand kicked in their faces, we are tank commanders.’ ”

A now-obscure cultural event captures, for me, this newfound sense of self and self-confidence. In 1978, ABC aired The Stars Salute Israel at 30 , a kitschy prime-time variety show filmed in front of a full house at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in Los Angeles, the same venue that hosted the Oscars. Like the Oscars, it featured an A-list slate: Barry Manilow in a white suit, surrounded by backup singers in sequins; Henry Winkler, the Fonz himself, playing a rough-hewn Israeli in a sketch; and, of course, Sammy Davis Jr. Near the conclusion, Barbra Streisand emerged in a white gown to talk via remote hookup with Golda Meir as a camera filmed the former prime minister in a book-filled room in Israel—the two most celebrated Jewish women of the century kibitzing on American TV.

photo of Barbra Streisand in white gown on stage singing into microphone with orchestra in background

In the early decades of Hollywood, Jewish stars had hidden behind stage names—Emanuel Goldenberg performed as Edward G. Robinson; Issur Danielovitch transformed himself into Kirk Douglas. Streisand had also changed her name, dropping the a from Barbara, but that was an instance of a diva’s bravado, not a sop to the goyim. What made her stardom so emblematic of the Golden Age was that she never allowed herself to be bullied into suppressing her Jewish identity. Her crowning achievement was Yentl , an adaptation of an Isaac Bashevis Singer short story. For the grand finale of the ABC telecast , Streisand sang “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem, for 18.7 million viewers. “The good feelings and the love will always remain,” she told them.

The Jewish vacation from history ended on September 11, 2001. It didn’t seem that way at the time. But the terror attacks opened an era of perpetual crisis, which became fertile soil where the hatred of Jews took root. Though Osama bin Laden claimed credit for the plot, that didn’t stop some people from trying to shift the blame. One theory explained in exquisitely absurd detail how Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, had toppled the Twin Towers.

But there was also a more sophisticated version of this conspiracy theory, one that had a patina of academic respectability. On the left, it became commonplace to fulminate against the neoconservatives, warmongering intellectuals said to be whispering in the ear of the American establishment, urging the invasion of Iraq and war against Iran.

This wasn’t fully untethered from reality: The neocons were a group of largely Jewish think-tank denizens and policy operatives, some of whom held top posts in President George W. Bush’s administration. But the angry talk about neocons also trafficked in dangerous old tropes. It inflated their role in world events and ascribed the worst motives to them. Men like Paul Wolfowitz, the second-highest-ranking official in Bush’s Pentagon, and William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard , were portrayed by critics on the left as bamboozlers undermining the national interest in service of their stealth loyalty to Israel. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for one, took exception to the idea that Jews were pulling the strings of the United States government. “I suppose the implication of that is that the president and the vice president and myself and Colin Powell just fell off a turnip truck to take these jobs,” he said.

In 2007, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, professors at Harvard and the University of Chicago, respectively, spelled out what others implied in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy , a book published by a venerable house, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, that soon arrived on the New York Times best-seller list. This was the opposite of the schmaltzy Streisand tribute—the Jewish state as not a friend but a villain surreptitiously manipulating American power to further its own ends.

One year later, Lehman Brothers, a bank founded in 1850 by the son of a Jewish cattle merchant from Bavaria, collapsed. That news was followed by the revelation that Bernie Madoff had masterminded the largest-known Ponzi scheme in history. Although politicians, on the whole, refrained from casting Jews as the primary culprits of the 2008 financial crisis—which was, in fact, systemic—a sizable portion of the public harbored this thought. Stanford University professors conducted a survey that found that nearly a quarter of the country blamed Jews for crashing the global economy. Another 38.4 percent ascribed at least some fault to “the Jews.”

In the era of perpetual crisis, a version of this narrative kept recurring: a small elite—sometimes bankers, sometimes lobbyists—maliciously exploiting the people. Such narratives helped propel Occupy Wall Street on the left and the Tea Party on the right. This brand of populist revolt had long been the stuff of Jewish nightmares. A fear of the mob suffused masterworks of the Golden Age—Theodor Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality , Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism , Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-intellectualism in American Life . Haunted by the Holocaust and inherited memories of pogroms, these writers warned how a society might fall prey to a demagogue who tapped into prejudice.

After 2008, a version of their prophecy came to pass. The right settled on a Jewish billionaire as their villain of choice: George Soros. An idea took hold, and not just on extremist blogs. The mainstream of the Republican Party seeded the image of Soros as the “shadow puppet master,” in the words of the former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. In elevating the figure of Soros and invoking him so frequently, Fox News and Republican politicians were also, intentionally or not, drawing on the deeply implanted imagery of the Jewish financier bankrolling the destruction of Christian civilization.

In 2018, Fox News began carrying images of migrant caravans headed from Central America toward Texas, a tide of humanity it described as an “invasion.” Though they had no evidence to bolster the charge, Republican politicians insinuated that the caravans were paid for by Soros. Representative Matt Gaetz tweeted a video of two men handing out cash to a line of Honduran migrants, accompanied by the question “Soros?” When President Trump was asked about Soros’s role in funding a caravan, a week after a pipe bomb was found in Soros’s mailbox, and days after the Tree of Life shooting, he told reporters, “I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Soros was a central character in a new master narrative, much of it adapted from European sources. The spine of the story was borrowed from a French author named Renaud Camus, a socialist turned far-right reactionary who wrote a 2011 book called The Great Replacement , warning that elites intended to diminish the white Christian presence in Europe by flooding the continent with migrants. The Jews weren’t a central feature of Camus’ theory. But when elements of the American right embraced it, they inserted Soros and his fellow Jews as the masterminds of the elite plot. This became the basis for the chant “Jews will not replace us.”

Jews were the antagonists of the conspiracy theory because they occupied a special place in the bizarre racial hierarchy of American ethno-nationalism. Eric Ward, an activist who is among the most rigorous students of white supremacy, has put it this way: “At the bedrock of the movement is an explicit claim that Jews are a race of their own, and that their ostensible position as White folks in the U.S. represents the greatest trick the devil ever played.” That is, Jews were able to pass as white people, but they were really stealth agents working for the other side of the race war, using immigration to subvert white Christian hegemony.

This notion planted itself in the mind of Robert Bowers, a loner who lived in a suburb of Pittsburgh. He became obsessed with the work of HIAS , originally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. It was formed in 1902 with the intention of easing the arrival of Jewish refugees fleeing pogroms. The group’s evolution was emblematic of the trajectory of Jewish liberalism. As American Jews settled into a comfortable existence in their new land, HIAS’s mission expanded. It has field offices in more than 20 countries, including a branch on a Greek island to tend to Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan migrants. On October 19, 2018, the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was participating in a National Refugee Shabbat, which was the brainchild of HIAS.

The event stoked Bowers’s rage. “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” he wrote on Gab, the Christian-nationalist social-media site. Just before he entered the synagogue’s sanctuary, armed with three semiautomatic pistols and an AR‑15 rifle, he posted, “Open you Eyes! It’s the filthy EVIL jews Bringing the Filthy EVIL Muslims into the Country!!”

archival photo of room full of people sitting at tables paying attention to man lecturing and pointing to American flag

A faith in immigration—the idea of America as a sanctuary for the refugee, the belief that subsequent groups of arrivals would experience the same up-from-the-shtetl trajectory—was a core tenet of Jewish liberalism. A Jewish poet had written the lines about huddled masses inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. If America was a nation of immigrants, that made Jews quintessential Americans. But now this ideal was the basis for Jews’ vilification. At the Tree of Life synagogue, it was used to justify their slaughter.

In the old Jewish theory of American politics, the best defense against the anti-Semitism of the right was a united left: minorities and liberal activists locking arms. When I was young, rabbis and elders reverently told us about the earnest young Jews in chunky glasses who had jumped aboard the Freedom Rides; about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, in his unmissable kippah, marching right next to Martin Luther King Jr.; and about the martyrdom of Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, two Jews who had been murdered alongside James Chaney, a Black Mississippian, for their work registering Black Americans to vote. A coalition of the tolerant pressed the country to live up to its ideals.

Later, I would learn that those memories were a bit gauzy. In the late 1960s, former comrades began to quietly, then brusquely, discard this spirit of common cause. Younger activists in the civil-rights movement took a hard turn toward Black Power and dismissed the old liberal theory of change as a melioristic ruse. Anti-war protesters embraced the decolonization struggles of the developing world. After Israel captured the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in 1967, many came to view the Jewish state as a vile oppressor. (This was well before right-wing Israeli governments saturated the occupied territories with Jewish settlers.) Even as Israel’s shocking victory in the Six-Day War, 22 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, filled American Jews with pride and confidence, a meaningful portion of America’s left turned on Israel.

The turmoil of the late ’60s presaged the rupture that has occurred over the past decade or so. A new ideology has taken hold on the left, with a reordered hierarchy of concerns and an even greater skepticism of the old liberal ideals.

This rupture was propelled by the menace of Donald Trump. His election jolted his opponents to take emergency measures. The left began describing itself as the Resistance, which implied a more confrontational style than that of Nancy Pelosi floor speeches or Center for American Progress white papers.

Even before Trump took office, the Resistance announced a mass protest set to defiantly descend on the capital, what organizers called the Women’s March on Washington. In an early planning meeting, at a New York restaurant, an activist named Vanessa Wruble explained that her Judaism was the motivating force in her political engagement. But Wruble’s autobiographical statement of intent earned her a rebuke. According to Wruble, two members of the inner circle planning the march told her that Jews needed to confront their own history of exploiting Black and brown people. Tablet magazine later reported that Wruble was told that Jews needed to repent for their leading role in the slave trade—a fallacious charge long circulated by the Nation of Islam. (The two organizers denied making the reported statements.) That moment of tension never really subsided, either for Wruble or for the left.

When the march’s organizers published their “unity principles,” they emphasized the importance of intersectionality, a theory first introduced by the law professor Kimberlé W. Crenshaw . It would be insufficient, she argued, for courts to focus their efforts on one narrow target of discrimination when it takes so many forms—racism, sexism, homophobia—that tend to reinforce one another. Her analysis, incisive in the context of the law, was never intended to guide social movements. Transposed by activists to the gritty work of coalition-building, it became the basis for a new orthodoxy—one that was largely indifferent to Jews, and at times outwardly hostile.

When the Women’s March listed the various injustices it hoped to conquer on its way to a better world, anti-Semitism was absent. It was a curious omission, given the central role that Jews played in the conspiracies promoted by the MAGA right, and a telling one. Soon after the march, organizers pushed Wruble out of leadership. She later said that anti-Semitism was the reason for her ouster. (The organizers denied this charge.)

The intersectional left self-consciously rebelled against the liberalism that had animated so much of institutional Judaism, which fought to install civil liberties and civil rights enforced by a disinterested state that would protect every minority equally. This new iteration of the left considered the idea of neutrality—whether objectivity in journalism or color blindness in the courts—as a guise for white supremacy. Tolerance, the old keyword of cultural pluralism, was a form of complicity. What the world actually needed was intolerance, a more active confrontation with hatred. In the historian Ibram X. Kendi’s formulation, an individual could choose to be anti-racist or racist , an activist or a collaborator. Or as Linda Sarsour, an activist of Palestinian descent and a co-chair of the Women’s March, put it, “We are not here to be bystanders.” To be a member of this new left in good moral standing, it was necessary to challenge oppression in all its incarnations. And Israel was now definitively an oppressor.

photo of MLK in suit and tie holding up picture of three slain civil rights activists

The American left hadn’t always imposed such a litmus test. During the years of the Oslo peace process, groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine had no problem attending events with liberal Zionists. Back then, the debate was over the borders of Israel, not over the fact of its existence. But that peace process collapsed during the last days of the Clinton administration, and whatever good faith had existed in that brief era of summits and handshakes dissipated. Hamas unleashed a wave of suicide bombings in the Second Intifada. And in the aftermath of those deadly attacks, successive right-wing Israeli governments presided over repressive policies in the West Bank and an inhumane blockade of Gaza.

Palestinian activists and their allies began the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, pushing universities to divest from Israel. The new goal was no longer coexistence between Arabs and Jews. It was to turn Israel into an international pariah, to stop working with all Israeli institutions—not just the military, but also symphonies, theater groups, and universities. In that spirit, it became fashionable for critics of Israel to identify as “anti-Zionist.”

Within the Jewish establishment, there’s a tendency to impute anti-Semitism to anyone who describes themselves that way. That has always struck me as intellectually imprecise and, occasionally, as a rhetorical gambit to close down debate. But there’s a reason so many Jews bristle at the thought of anti-Zionism finding a home on the American left: Zionist can start to sound like a synonym for Jew . Zionists stand accused of the same crimes that anti-Semites have attached to Jews since the birth of Christianity; Jews are portrayed as omnipotent, bloodthirsty baby-killers. Knowing the historical echoes, it’s hard not to worry that the anger might fixate on the Jewish target closest at hand—which, indeed, it has.

In 2014, dorms at NYU where religiously observant Jews lived received mock eviction notices—“We reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings,” read the flyer slipped under doors—as if intimidating college kids with unknown politics somehow represented a justifiable reprisal for Israeli-government action in the West Bank. The same notices appeared at Emory University, in Atlanta, in 2019. At the University of Vermont and SUNY New Paltz, groups that helped sexual-assault survivors were accused of purging pro-Israel students from their ranks. “If you don’t support Palestinian liberation you don’t support survivors,” the Vermont group exclaimed. Years before October 7, students at Tufts University, outside Boston, and the University of Southern California moved to impeach elected Jews in student government over their support for Israel’s existence. This wasn’t normal politics. It was evidence of bigotry.

Among the primary targets of the activists were the Hillel centers present on most college campuses. These centers occasionally coordinate trips to Israel and, on some campuses, sponsor student groups supportive of Israel. Those facts led pro-Palestinian activists to describe Hillel as an arm of the “Israeli war machine.” At SUNY Stony Brook, activists sought to expel Hillel from campus, arguing, “If there were Nazis, white nationalists, and KKK members on campus, would their identity have to be accepted and respected?” At Rice University, in Texas, an LGBTQ group severed ties with Hillel because it allegedly made students feel unsafe. What made this incident darkly comic is that Hillel couldn’t be more progressive on issues of sexual freedom. What made it so worrying is that Hillel’s practical purpose is not to defend Israel, but to provide Shabbat dinners and a space for ritual and prayer. To condemn Hillel is to condemn Jewish religious life on campus.

Gal Beckerman: The left abandoned me

As exclusion of Jews became a more regular occurrence, the leadership of the left, and of universities for that matter, had little to say about the problem. To give the most generous explanation: Jews simply didn’t fit the analytic framework of the new left.

At its core, the intersectional left wanted to smash power structures. In the American context, it would be hard to place Jews among the ranks of the oppressed; in the Israeli context, they can be cast as the oppressor. Nazi Germany definitively excluded Jews from a category we now call “whiteness.” Today, Jews are treated in sectors of the left as the epitome of whiteness. But any analysis that focuses so relentlessly on the role of privilege, as the left’s does, will be dangerously blind to anti-Semitism, because anti-Semitism itself entails an accusation of privilege. It’s a theory that regards the Jew as an all-powerful figure in society, a position acquired by underhanded means. In the annals of Jewish history, accusations of privilege are the basis for hate, the kindling for pogroms. But universities too often ignored this lesson from the past. Instead, they acted, as the British comedian David Baddiel put it in the title of his prescient book about progressive anti-Semitism, as if “ Jews don’t count .”

In the death spiral of liberalism, extremism on the right begets extremism on the left, which begets further extremism on the right. To protest the censoriousness of the new progressives, right-wing edgelords and trolls attempted to seize the mantle of liberty.

The most powerful of the edgelords was Elon Musk, who purchased Twitter ostensibly to save discourse from the woke mob. To make good on his noble aims, he reversed bans that the platform’s previous regime had imposed on the most vile anti-Semites, including the white nationalist Patrick Howley, the comic Sam Hyde, and the Daily Stormer’s founder, Andrew Anglin. By restoring them to the site, Musk was, in essence, conceding that their words shouldn’t have been considered taboo in the first place. He legitimized their claims of victimhood, the sense that they had been excluded only because they’d offended the wrong people.

In fact, Musk hinted that he shared this conspiratorial view of censorship. In May 2023, he retweeted an aphorism that he attributed to Voltaire: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Those words were actually uttered by a neo-Nazi named Kevin Alfred Strom, not the French philosopher. It shouldn’t have been hard to imagine that the words had dubious origins, because they captured a view of the world in which shadowy forces furtively censor their enemies.

Nor was it hard to imagine that those shadowy forces might include the Anti-Defamation League, which relentlessly called attention to the proliferation of Jew hatred on Twitter under Musk’s ownership. Musk threatened to sue the group, accusing it of trying to “kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic.” The Jews, he all but spelled out, were those who couldn’t be criticized—which, by the logic of the Strom quote, made them society’s secret masters.

Musk wasn’t alone in this argument. In 2022, Dave Chappelle used the opening monologue of Saturday Night Live to muse about the cancellation of the hip-hop artist Ye (formerly Kanye West), who had lost a deal with Adidas after he promised, among other things, to go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” Chappelle exuded empathy for Ye. “I don’t want a sneaker deal, because the minute I say something that makes those people mad, they’re going to take my sneakers away … I hope they don’t take anything away from me,” he said, adding with a smile and a conspiratorial whisper: “Whoever they are.” There was no mystery about his use of pronouns: “I’ve been to Hollywood … It’s a lot of Jews. Like, a lot.” He went on, “You could maybe adopt the delusion that the Jews run show business.”

photo of Dave Chapelle with microphone opening SNL with band in background

Chappelle practices shock comedy as a form of shock therapy: The authoritarian impositions of the left justify offensive comments, which are a form of defiance. He has taken a genuine problem—anti-liberalism on the left—and used it as a pretext for smuggling anti-Semitism into acceptable discourse.

That Chappelle and Musk see fit to indulge anti-Semitism in order to protect freedom of speech contains a dark irony. In the 20th century, starting with Louis Brandeis’s dissents on the Supreme Court, Jews stood at the vanguard of the movement to protect “subversive advocacy,” even when it came at their own expense. This could be understood as a defense of the Talmudic tradition of disagreement, what Rabbi David Wolpe calls the “Jewish sacrament” of debate. The movement culminated in Skokie, Illinois, in 1977, when the ACLU deployed the lawyer David Goldberger to sue to allow neo-Nazis to march through the Chicago suburb, which was filled with Holocaust survivors. The Jewish community was hardly unanimous on the Skokie question—unanimity would have been inconsistent with the tradition—but the ACLU position reflected a commitment to free speech officially espoused by major Jewish communal institutions in the postwar years.

In the Jewish vision of free speech, open interpretation and endless debate mark the path to knowledge; the proliferation of discourse is the antidote to bad ideas. But in the reality of social media, free speech also consists of Jew hatred that masquerades as comic entertainment, a way to capture the attention of young men eager to rebel against the strictures of what they decry as wokeness.

When I asked Oren Segal, who runs the ADL’s Center on Extremism, to point me to a state-of-the-art anti-Semitic hate group, he cited the Goyim Defense League. The spitefully silly name reflects its methods, which include pranks and stunts broadcast on its website, Goyim TV. Its leader sometimes dresses as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, calling himself the “Honest Rabbi.” In one demented piece of guerrilla theater, he apologizes on behalf of the Jewish people for fabricating stories about the Holocaust. The group has attempted to popularize the slogan “Kanye is right about the Jews,” hanging a banner proclaiming it on a freeway overpass in Los Angeles and projecting it on the side of a football stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, as 75,000 fans filed out. GDL hecklers have stood in front of Florida synagogues and Holocaust museums, shouting, “Leave our country. Go back to Israel” and “Heil Hitler.”

In a short span, as the edgelords successfully pushed the limits, American culture became permissive regarding what could be said about Jews. Anti-Semitism crept back into the realm of the acceptable.

For a brief moment , it felt as if the October 7 attacks might reverse the tide, because it should have been impossible not to recoil at the footage of Hamas’s pogrom. Israel had yet to launch its counterattack, so there was no war to condemn. Still, even in this moment of moral clarity, the campus left couldn’t muster compassion. At Harvard, more than 30 student groups signed a letter on October 7, holding “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” Days later, the incoming head of NYU’s new Center for Indigenous Studies described the attacks as “affirming.” This sympathy for Hamas, when its crimes were freshest, was a glimpse of what was about to come.

On the afternoon of October 11, Rebecca Massel, a reporter at the Columbia Daily Spectator , received a tip. She was told that a woman, her face wrapped in a bandanna, had assaulted an Israeli student in front of Butler Library in a dispute over flyers depicting hostages held by Hamas. The woman’s alleged weapon was a broomstick. Her battle cry was said to be “Fuck all of you prick crackers.” After striking him with the broomstick, the man said, she attempted to punch him in the face. By the end of the fracas, she had bruised one of his hands and sprained a finger on the other.

Massel began to report out the story . She spoke with the victim, who told her, “Now, we have to handle the situation that campus is not a safe place for us anymore.” She spoke with the NYPD, which confirmed that it had arrested the woman, who was charged with hate crimes and has pleaded not guilty. Massel and her editors curbed their impulse to quickly score a scoop, double-checking every sentence. They didn’t publish the story until 3 a.m. on October 12.

Later that morning, Massel, a sophomore studying political science, was sitting in her Contemporary Civilization seminar when her phone lit up. It was her editor, calling her back. She had texted him to get his sense of the response her article had elicited, so she stepped out of class to hear what he had to say. She had already caught a glimpse of posts on social media, harping on her Jewishness and accusing her of having a “religious agenda.” She’d worried that these weren’t stray attacks. The editor told her the paper had been inundated. The messages it had received about the article were vitriolic, but he didn’t give her any specifics. Before returning to class, she checked her own email. A message read, “I hope you fucking get what you deserve … you racist freak.”

Read: The juvenile viciousness of campus anti-Semitism

For as long as she could remember, Massel had wanted to be a journalist. She’d founded the newspaper at her elementary school. During high school, she’d read She Said , Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s book about investigating Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults. The New York Times reporters insisted that they were journalists, not feminist journalists. Massel vowed to take the same approach. The accusations of bias, therefore, didn’t just feel anti-Semitic. They felt like an attack on the integrity that she hoped would define her work.

But anger was an emotion for another day. At that moment, she was overwhelmed by fear. She thought about what the Israeli student had told her the day before. A dean had apparently advised him to leave campus because the university couldn’t guarantee his safety. Now Massel felt unsure of her own physical well-being. She decided that she would stay with her parents until she could get a better sense of the fury directed at her.

In her unnerved state, Massel threw herself into her journalism. She decided to interview Jewish students, from all corners of the university, to gauge their mood. After the office of public safety assured her that she could return to campus, she parked herself in the second-floor lounge of Columbia’s Hillel center. When she overheard a student mention an incident, she would approach them and ask to talk.

Over the course of two weeks, Massel spoke with 54 students . What she amassed was a tally of fear. Thirteen told her that they had felt harassed or attacked, either virtually or in person. (One passerby had barked “Fuck the Jews” at a small group of students.) Thirty-four reported that they felt targeted or unsafe on campus. (At one precarious moment, the Hillel center went into lockdown, out of concern that protesters might descend on the building.) Twelve said that they had suppressed markers of their Jewish identity, wearing a baseball cap over a yarmulke or tucking a Star of David necklace into a sweatshirt. She learned that a group of students had created a group-chat system to arrange escorts, so that no Jew would have to walk across campus alone if they felt unsafe.

Perhaps even more ominously, Massel uncovered incidents in which teachers expressed hostility toward Jewish students. One Israeli student told Massel that a professor had once said to him, “It’s such a shame that your people survived just in order to perpetuate another genocide.” When I made my own calls to students and faculty, I heard similar stories, especially instances of teaching assistants seizing their bully pulpit to sermonize. One TA wrote to their students, “We are watching genocide unfold in real time, after a systematic 75+ years of oppression of the Palestinian people … It feels ridiculous to hold section today, but I’ll see you all on Zoom in a bit.” One student left class in the middle of a professor’s broadside against Israel in a required course in the Middle East–studies department. Afterward, he sent an email to the professor explaining his departure, to which the professor wrote back, saying they could discuss it in class later. When the student returned, the professor read his email aloud to the whole class, and invited everyone to discuss the exchange. It felt like an act of deliberate humiliation.

When I talked with Jewish students at Columbia, I was struck by how they, too, tended to speak in the language of the intersectional left. They described their “lived experience” and trauma: the pain they felt on October 7 as they learned of the attacks; the fear that consumed them when they heard protesters call for the annihilation of Israel. They sincerely expected their university to respond with unabashed empathy, because that’s how it had responded in the past to other terrible events. Instead, Columbia greeted their pain with the soon-to-be-infamous concept of “context,” including a panel discussion that explained the attacks as the product of a long struggle. This historicizing felt as if it not only discounted Jewish students’ suffering but also regarded it as a moral failing. (In early November, in response to criticism, Columbia announced that it would create a task force on anti-Semitism.)

photo from back of student in kippah and backpack facing protest and people in street

There are many reasons for the unusual intensity of events at Columbia, which is located in a city that is a traditional bastion of the American left; its campus is where the late Palestinian American literary critic Edward Said achieved legendary status. But Columbia is also a graphic example of the collapse of the liberalism that had insulated American Jews: It is a microcosm of a society that has lost its capacity to express disagreements without resorting to animus.

The events on campus that followed October 7 were a sad coda to the Golden Age. When I was a student at Columbia, in the ’90s, the Ivy League was a primary plot point in a triumphalist tale. During the first half of the 20th century, Columbia had deployed extraordinary institutional energy to limit the presence of Jews. The modern college-application process was invented by Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler to more effectively weed out Jews. In the late ’20s, the university created an ersatz version of itself in Brooklyn, Seth Low Junior College, so that it could educate otherwise qualified Jewish applicants there, rather than having them mingle with the Gentiles in Morningside Heights. But once Columbia lifted its quotas after World War II, the Jewish presence swelled. By 1967, the student body was 40 percent Jewish. The institution that arguably had fought hardest to exclude them became a welcoming home.

But in the 21st century, the Jewish presence in the Ivy League has steadily receded . In the 2000s, Yale was 20 percent Jewish. The proportion is now about half that. The University of Pennsylvania went from being a third Jewish to about 16 percent. The reasons for that plummet aren’t nefarious. There has been a deliberate institutional drive to reengineer the elite, to provide opportunities to first-generation college students and students of color. Some Jews have chafed at this reengineering. But the concept of meritocracy that Jews celebrated was far from a pure reward for test scores and grades. Jewish alumni came to benefit from the same dynastic system of preference that their Protestant predecessors had taken advantage of. Their children applied from prestigious high schools, which maintained a cozy relationship with university admissions offices. It was a system that desperately required reforming in the name of fairness.

The problem exposed in the limp university response to campus anti-Semitism after October 7—distilled to then–Harvard President Claudine Gay’s phrase, “It depends on the context”—is that Jewish students aren’t just a diminished presence but a diminished priority. Whereas Jews thought of themselves as a vulnerable minority—perhaps not the most vulnerable, but certainly worthy of official concern—their academic communities apparently considered them too privileged to merit that status. This wasn’t just scary. It carried the sting of rejection.

There’s a number that haunts me. In 2022, the Tufts political scientist Eitan Hersh conducted a comprehensive study of Jewish life on American college campuses, which surveyed both Jews and Gentiles. Hersh found that on campuses with a relatively high proportion of Jewish students, nearly one in five non-Jewish students said they “wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who supports the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.” They were saying, in essence, that they couldn’t be friends with the majority of Jews.

Each spring , during the Passover seder, Jews recite this phrase from the Haggadah: “In every generation, our enemies rise up to destroy us.” To participate in the most universally observed of all Jewish rituals, a celebration of liberation and survival, is to be reminded of the grim cycle of Jewish history, in which golden ages are moments of dramatic irony, the naive complacency just before the onset of doom. Some of these moments are within living memory.

In 1933, the Central Union of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith published a 1,060-page book meticulously enumerating the achievements of the community. It was quite a list. Weimar Germany is remembered as a period of instability, a time of beer-hall-putschists, louche cabarets, and rampant assassinations. But Weimar was also the pinnacle of Jewish power, a golden age in its own right, especially if one considers the whole of German culture, which sprawled across borders on the map. During the first decades of the 20th century, Jewish contributors to German music included Gustav Mahler, Kurt Weill, and Arnold Schoenberg; to German literature, Franz Kafka, Stefan Zweig, and Walter Benjamin; to science, Albert Einstein. Jews presided over the Frankfurt School of social criticism and populated the Bauhaus school of art and architecture. The Central Union’s compendium could be read as the immodest self-congratulation of a people who represented 0.8 percent of the total population—or as a desperate, futile plea for Germany to return the love that Jews felt for the country.

Americans maintain a favorable opinion of Jews . The community remains prosperous and politically powerful. But the memory of how quickly the best of times can turn dark has infused the Jewish reactions to events of the past decade. “When lights start flashing red, the Jewish impulse is to flee,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me.

Back in 2016, many liberals blustered about leaving the country if Donald Trump was elected president; after he won, many Jews actually hatched contingency plans. My mother tried, in vain, to get a passport from Poland, the country of her birth. An immigration lawyer I know in Cleveland told me that he had obtained a German passport, and suggested that I call the German embassy in Washington to learn how many other American Jews had done the same.

The German government, for understandable reasons, doesn’t count Jews. But the embassy sent me a tally of passport applications submitted under laws that apply to victims of Nazi persecution and their descendants. In 2017, after Trump’s election, the number of applications nearly doubled from the year before, to 1,685, and then kept growing. In 2022, it was 2,500. These aren’t large numbers in absolute terms; still, it’s extraordinary that so many American Jews, whose applications required documenting that their families once fled Germany, now consider the country a safer haven than the United States.

I also saw signs of flight in Oakland, where at least 30 Jewish families have been approved to transfer their children to neighboring school districts —and I heard similar stories in the surrounding area. Initial data collected by an organization representing Jewish day schools, which have long struggled for enrollment, show a spike in the number of admission inquiries from families contemplating pulling their kids from public school.

After 1967, the previous moment of profound political abandonment, the American Jewish community began to entertain thoughts of its own radical reinvention. A coterie of disillusioned intellectuals, clustered around a handful of small-circulation journals and think tanks, turned sharply rightward, creating the neoconservative movement. Among activists, the energy that had once been directed toward Freedom Rides was plowed into the cause of Soviet Jewry, which became a defining political obsession of many synagogues in the 1970s and ’80s. Meanwhile, Jewish hippies turned inward, creating new spiritual movements centered on prayer and ritual.

Although not all of these movements proved equally fruitful, this history, in a way, is cause for optimism, an example of how conflict might provide the path to religious renewal and a fresh sense of solidarity. It’s also a reminder that the Golden Age was not an uninterrupted rise.

The case for pessimism, however, is more convincing. The forces arrayed against Jews, on the right and the left, are far more powerful than they were 50 years ago. The surge of anti-Semitism is a symptom of the decay of democratic habits, a leading indicator of rising authoritarianism. When anti-Semitism takes hold, conspiracy theory hardens into conventional wisdom, embedding violence in thought and then in deadly action. A society that holds its Jews at arm’s length is likely to be more intent on hunting down scapegoats than addressing underlying defects. Although it is hardly an iron law of history, such societies are prone to decline. England entered a long dark age after expelling its Jews in 1290. Czarist Russia limped toward revolution after the pogroms of the 1880s. If America persists on its current course, it would be the end of the Golden Age not just for the Jews, but for the country that nurtured them.

*Lead image source: Top row from left to right : Michael Ochs Archives / Getty; Universal History Archive / Getty. Middle row from left to right : Robert Mitra / WWD / Penske Media / Getty; Ulf Andersen / Getty; Jean-Régis Roustan / Roger Viollet / Getty; CBS Photo Archive / Getty; Daily Herald / Mirrorpix / Getty; Bettmann / Getty; David Lefranc / Getty; Bettmann / Getty; Frederick M. Brown / Getty; CBS Photo Archive / Getty; Theo Wargo / Getty; Max B. Miller / Archive Photos / Getty. Bottom row from left to right : ABC Photo Archives / Getty; Bachrach / Getty; Getty; Bernard Gotfryd / Getty.

This article appears in the April 2024 print edition with the headline “The End of the Golden Age.” When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

We have a crisis of police recruitment and retention in Suffolk County and elsewhere

As policing becomes more complex, there is a need to...

As policing becomes more complex, there is a need to raise the qualifications and standards to become an officer. Credit: James Carbone

While issues like migrant crime, fentanyl overdoses, and gang murders grab headlines, the greatest threat to public safety is the plummeting rates of police recruitment and retention.

We're nearing crisis levels, and without properly staffed and experienced police departments, crime rates will spike in every category and public safety will decline.

In 1996, the Suffolk County Police Officer Exam had 41,504 applicants. The most recent exam application period in 2023 yielded just 13,455 applicants — a 67% drop.

The SCPD is not alone in this trend. After declining applicant turnout, New York City waived its test fee, reduced physical standards, and eliminated the requirement that applicants complete a timed 1.5-mile run. Los Angeles relaxed physical standards, made the written exam less difficult, and ended the process of disqualifying candidates for having financial issues. And Detroit is recruiting applicants even if they have outstanding low-level arrest warrants.

As policing has become increasingly complex, we should be raising the qualifications and standards needed to become an officer. Instead, we’re overlooking drug use, disregarding criminal history, and dumbing down written tests.

From our Editorial Board, get inside the local, city and state political scenes.

By clicking Sign up, you agree to our privacy policy .

The job has always been dangerous, but it's not fear of risking your life that is driving people away. It’s risking your life for a society that seems to have turned its back on you. After years of demonization of police, who would want to be a cop?

Policing in America has never been tougher, as evident by recent spikes in violent crime and mental health issues. Then there’s our own mental health — suicide rates are a staggering 54% higher among law enforcement personnel than the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has impacted us especially hard in Suffolk, as we lost four law enforcement officers to suicide within the past two months.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice convened a meeting of law enforcement and community leaders from around the country to talk about the crisis. The resulting report made several recommendations, like improving benefits and compensation incentives, eliminating caps on pensions and overtime, creating retention bonuses, and increasing time off.

In New York, we can make positive changes by rolling back pension tier reform, giving our recruits the same benefits as the generations that came before them.

We need to restore control to our communities that elect local district attorneys and end the practice of giving local oversight of police interactions with citizens to the state attorney general.

Craft laws that serve the people, not a woke agenda. Repeal bail reform so the justice system isn’t a revolving door of crime. Establish a National Police Bill of Rights and give officers protection against bogus complaints.

We must make suicide prevention training an essential part of the job, while also expanding tools like mental health peer groups that will improve public safety and protect our officers.

Most importantly, elected officials should stop caving to the anti-police agenda. Policing is an honorable profession, one of service and sacrifice to the same communities that raised these officers. All parts of our society should start treating law enforcement officers with respect and stop defining police by the actions of a few. Instead, acknowledge the reality that 99% of our police do a phenomenal job.

We need to recruit the best and brightest into the next generation of law enforcement. If we fail to do so, it will be a peril to public safety.

This guest essay reflects the views of Louis Civello, president of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association.

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