National Council for Occupational Health and Safety: Burgeoning Cost of Regulations? Where?

by Randy Rabinowitz, 1/22/2013

Hats off to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) for setting the record straight on workplace safety standards! In a blog post last week, National COSH's Dorry Samuels answered the question posed by The Washington Post's Wonk Blog – "New regulations ... what do they reap?" The piece featured questionable statistics from a report by the conservative American Action Forum complaining about the costs (to business) of regulations. Samuels highlighted the human costs of delaying crucial workplace safety protections.

Specifically, Samuels reported that:

The AFL-CIO’s latest “Death on the Job” report calculates that 4,690 workers were killed on the job in 2010 – an average of 13 workers every day – and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. Workers suffer an additional 7.6 million to 11.4 million job injuries and illnesses each year.

The price tag for all of these job injuries and illnesses? Approximately $250 billion to $300 billion a year – and it wasn’t negligent employers picking up the tab.

Samuels went on to highlight several worker safety standards that have been delayed or withdrawn:

A standard that would protect American workers from exposure to silica on the job has been stalled for more than 15 years. Currently, the silica standard sits dormant at the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, where it’s been under review for more than 15 months instead of the 90 days allowed by executive order. (Sign a petition calling for a silica standard.)

An injury and illness prevention program (I2P2), which would help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt, has failed to be enacted by federal OSHA [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration].

And just last year, under pressure from the powerful agribusiness lobby, the Obama administration withdrew a proposal that would have restricted child workers from the most dangerous tasks in agriculture.

The standards above represent only a partial list of public protections that are stuck in the regulatory process, even though they would protect the health, safety, and lives of millions of Americans.

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