Securing the Right to a Safe and Healthy Workplace

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), passed in 1970, recognizes that workers play a critical role in ensuring their workplaces are healthy and safe. The OSH Act gives workers the right to report unsafe working conditions and the right to refuse to work under such conditions without reprisal. The concept is for workers to function as the “eyes and ears” of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and help the agency prioritize its limited resources to focus inspections on the most dangerous work sites. Workers will only report safety and health hazards in the workplace, however, if they can come forward without fear of reprisal. Thus, the law prohibits employers from taking any adverse action against employees who exercise the rights provided to them under the OSH Act.

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Government Shutdown Would Compromise Worker and Public Health

As we creep ever closer to the prospect of a federal government shutdown due to the efforts by some conservative members of Congress to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and attack implementation of our nation’s public health laws, it’s important to understand how a shutdown will impact the health and safety of workers and the public’s health.

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Labor Department Announces Long-Awaited Home Care Workers Rule

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule on Sept. 17 to increase the wage protections afforded to home care workers. The rule, first proposed nearly two years ago, will bring more domestic service workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime provisions.

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EPA Scientists Deem Benzo(a)pyrene a Cancer-causing Chemical

On Aug. 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft revised health assessment of the toxic chemical benzo(a)pyrene (BaP). This chemical is widely found in the environment and in a number of workplaces, and in its assessment, EPA declared that BaP causes cancer.

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GAO Confirms Public Interest Group Criticisms of Controversial Poultry Inspection Rule

A report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reinforces health and safety advocates' concerns about proposed changes to poultry inspection procedures. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a controversial proposed rule to shift responsibility for inspections away from agency inspectors to employees of the slaughter and processing plants. Despite calls to address serious food and worker safety concerns, the agency plans to finalize the rule this year. GAO's new report identifies limitations in the data used to justify the rule and casts further doubt on USDA's decision to advance a fatally flawed proposal.

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The Health and Safety of America's Workforce Are at Stake in Upcoming Budget Battles

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2013—In advance of Labor Day and the looming budget battles in Congress, the Center for Effective Government has published a report showing that the health and safety of America's workforce is on the line as lawmakers gear up for the fiscal debates ahead. The report notes that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is significantly underfunded and does not have the resources it needs to fulfill its mission. Looming cuts would set it back farther.

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What's At Stake: Austerity Budgets Threaten Worker Health and Safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with ensuring that every working man and woman in America has "safe and healthful working conditions." Established in 1970 under Nixon's "new federalism," and housed in the Department of Labor, its enforcement staff comes from both federal and state agencies. The agencies responsible for worker health and safety have never been well funded, and with their budgets shrinking, their ability to achieve their mission is increasingly at risk. New cuts are likely to result in more unsafe workplaces, more accidents and injuries, and higher costs for business and society down the road.

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Mine Safety Agency Ready to Finalize Black Lung Controls Pending White House Review

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) recently submitted for White House review a final rule to protect coal miners from black lung disease. Black lung, or coal workers' pneumoconiosis, is a preventable but often deadly occupational disease contracted by prolonged inhalation of coal mine dust.

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Proposed Rule to Protect Workers Released for Public Comment

On Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a long-delayed proposed rule to lower worker exposure to crystalline silica. Silica dust can be deadly; it kills hundreds of workers every year and sickens thousands more. Now, after more than a decade and a half in development and over two years of review, the proposal has been released and will soon be ready for public comment.

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A Misleading Report Obscures Sequestration's Impact on Regulators' Budgets

Last month, university-based researchers Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren released a highly misleading report claiming sequestration has not had much impact on the overall budgets of federal regulatory agencies.

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