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.

read in full

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.

read in full

Delivering on Open Government: The Obama Administration's Unfinished Legacy

This report examines progress made during President Obama’s first term toward open government goals outlined in a comprehensive set of recommendations that the open government community issued in November 2008, titled Moving Toward a 21st Century Right-to-Know Agenda. We examine activity in the three main areas of the 2008 report: creating an environment within government that is supportive of transparency, improving public use of government information, and reducing the secrecy related to national security issues.

read in full

Small Businesses, Public Health, and Scientific Integrity

This report examines the activities of an independent office within the Small Business Administration: the Office of Advocacy. The Office of Advocacy has responsibility for ensuring that federal agencies evaluate the small business impacts of the rules they adopt. Scientific assessments are not “rules” and do not regulate small business, yet the Office of Advocacy decided to comment on technical, scientific assessments of the cancer risks of formaldehyde, styrene, and chromium. By its own admission, Advocacy lacks the scientific expertise to evaluate the merits of such assessments.

read in full

The Regulatory Tsunami That Wasn’t

This report shows that there is little difference between the Obama administration and past administrations in their overall level of regulatory activity. There has been an increase in the number of significant rules during the Obama administration, but that has been driven by the statutory and judicial deadlines the Obama administration faced and by regulatory actions left uncompleted by prior administrations. The number of pending regulations leading into this election year is remarkably similar to comparable time periods under past administrations and does not provide any evidence of plans for an avalanche of regulations to come.

read in full

The Right to Know, the Responsibility to Protect: State Actions Are Inadequate to Ensure Effective Disclosure of the Chemicals Used in Natural Gas Fracking

The Right to Know, the Responsibility to Protect examines the actions being taken or considered by state governments to ensure that the public can track the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing (also known as natural gas fracking). By examining current state disclosure laws, identifying the gap between effective disclosure policy and existing practice, and reviewing the most recent evidence on the health risks of exposure to the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, we hope this report will encourage state and local authorities to improve their chemical disclosure standards.

read in full

Safeguarding the Public's Health and Safety: The President's FY 2013 Public Protections Funding Requests

When public agencies are effective and responsive, the protections they afford to the American people are largely invisible. Americans have largely forgotten the “bad old days” before there were meat inspectors, toy inspectors, workplace safety standards, clean air and water standards, and laws against the release of toxic chemical waste. In a new analysis released Feb. 17, we examine the “public protections budget” – a diverse set of federal programs in agencies whose mission is to protect the health and welfare of the American public.

read in full

An Agenda to Strengthen Our Right to Know: Empowering Citizens with Environmental, Health, and Safety Information

Public engagement and access to environmental and public health information are vital democratic tools. A lack of government openness impairs everything from preventing – and cleaning up – oil spills to protecting children from toxic chemicals. The need to break down information barriers and bring the public back into the policymaking process is greater than ever. A lack of access to quality information – and to policymakers – hurts people and the landscapes we cherish and depend on. This report includes a comprehensive set of recommendations that are aimed at filling critical data gaps and empowering the American people to protect themselves, their families, and their communities from toxic pollution and other environmental health hazards.

read in full

The Obama Approach to Public Protection: The Regulatory Process

When Barack Obama took the oath of office in January 2009, the country faced problems unlike any the country had faced in generations. The economic system was near collapse. Each year, food-borne illnesses sickened millions, workplace hazards killed and injured thousands on the job, and air pollution triggered asthma attacks in millions of children and adults. Long procedural delays and political interference in the regulatory process caused deficits in safety and health standards, exacerbating these problems. This report examines efforts to address such delays and interference by focusing on the regulatory process, including transparency and participation, regulatory analysis, scientific integrity, and the role of the White House, especially the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in shaping the administration's record. This is the third of three OMB Watch reports evaluating the Obama administration’s record on regulatory issues.

read in full

The Obama Approach to Public Protection: Enforcement

President Barack Obama took office acknowledging weaknesses in regulation and arguing that special interests had taken control of the process. This report intends to determine whether the Obama administration has made progress in reinvigorating regulatory enforcement at the federal level. It focuses on three areas: worker safety and health, consumer safety and health, and environmental enforcement at federal agencies. This is the second of three OMB Watch reports evaluating the Obama administration’s record on regulatory issues.

read in full

Pages