Senate Bill Would Ensure Negligent Corporate Officials Are Held Accountable

On July 16, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Hide No Harm Act. The legislation would require corporate officers to disclose to employees, federal officials, and the public information and warnings about serious dangers associated with product defects or unsafe work practices. Currently, criminal fines and imprisonment are rarely imposed on individual corporate executives who have knowingly concealed such crucial information, but this bill would ensure that those personally responsible for decisions leading to serious injuries or deaths are held criminally accountable.

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DOT Allows Many Truckers Delivering Fireworks for 4th of July to Extend Work Hours

Approximately 35 million Americans will travel on our nation’s highways between July 2 and July 6 for Independence Day festivities, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). Driving alongside them will be truckers hauling explosive fireworks to their destinations in time for Friday’s celebrations. But instead of bolstering public protections to ensure highway safety during one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has chosen to relax driving restrictions for truckers employed by more than 50 companies (see notices here and here) who will be transporting fireworks on heavily traveled roadways from June 28 to July 8.

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Chemical Safety Report Opens Door for Improvements, but Strong Requirements Still Needed

On June 6, the interagency working group that President Obama formed in the wake of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion released its report to the president, conveying its recommendations for improving chemical facility safety and security. The report outlines many of the significant problems facing chemical facility safety in this country, including limited information sharing, incomplete and incompatible regulations, and the need for greater use of safer technologies. The recommendations on these problems point in the right direction but leave the details to the individual agencies to resolve as they move forward on possible regulations and policy changes.

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Spring 2014 Unified Agenda: Agencies Expect Lengthy Delays of Critical Safeguards in Year Ahead

On May 23, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) quietly published its semi-annual agenda of federal agencies’ regulatory plans for significant actions expected during the upcoming year. Unfortunately, the Spring 2014 Unified Agenda does not send a strong message that the administration expects to finalize many critical safeguards, some pending for years, over the next 12 months.

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Is California Keeping People Safe at Work? Labor Advocates Say No

by Elizabeth Grossman (originally posted on The Pump Handle on May 14, 2014)

In 2012, the most recent year for which US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures are available, 375 people died on the job in California  – an average occupational fatality rate of more than one person every day. At the same time, research by Worksafe and other California labor advocates shows that while California’s workforce has grown by about 22 percent in the last 20 years, the number of safety inspectors for the 17 million people employed in the state’s 1.34 million workplaces has decreased by about 11 percent. 

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In Remembrance: Workers Memorial Day 2014

April 28 is Worker’s Memorial Day, an international day for remembering workers who have been injured or killed as a result of on-the-job incidents or long-term occupational illnesses. On this day, we also celebrate the substantial progress made in protecting workers over the forty-plus years since the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was enacted and remember how critical it is to continue the important work of ensuring our workers' health and safety. 

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Department of Labor Strengthens Mine Worker Protections in Fight Against Black Lung

On April 23, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced new rules limiting the amount of coal dust that miners can be exposed to. The new standards, effective Aug. 1, are aimed at eliminating black lung disease caused by exposure to high amounts of coal dust.

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One Year after the West, Texas Explosion: Has Safety Improved?

A year ago today, 15 Americans were killed and 200 injured in a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that also destroyed surrounding schools, a nursing home, and residential buildings. The disaster raised serious questions about managing the risks that facilities can pose to local communities. A year later, we ask ourselves, are we any safer?

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EPA’s Farmworker Protection Standard Proposal -- An (Insufficient) Step Forward

On March 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposal to revise the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS), which was first announced by the agency on Feb. 20.

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Delayed Health and Safety Standards Cost Lives

On Tuesday, I testified at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce about why critical health and safety standards were being delayed and how we could improve the timeliness and transparency of the rulemaking process. A condensed version of my oral testimony follows, along with a link to my written testimony.

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