Workers and Economy to Gain From New Workplace Safety Standards

Last month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a long-delayed proposed rule establishing a comprehensive standard to protect more than two million U.S. workers from exposure to silica in general, construction, and maritime industries.

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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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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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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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New Study Shows Workers at Fracking Sites Exposed to Unsafe Levels of Silica Dust

A new study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that workers at 11 hydraulic fracturing sites in five states were exposed to high levels of crystalline silica dust.

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It Turns Out that Workplace Inspections Really Work

To those of us who believe that health and safety standards are essential to protecting workers and others from hazards, it should come as no surprise that a recent study by two business school professors shows that OSHA inspections are effective in reducing injuries and illnesses among workers and workers’ compensation costs. The study echoes similar findings by Washington State’s Safety & Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program. Despite this empirical evidence, don’t expect Big Business or its allies to let up on their campaign to repeal those safeguards or weaken their enforcement.

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Worker-Killing Regulatory Delays

April 28 marked Workers’ Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor and remember workers who have been killed on the job. The majority of these deaths are the result of inadequate health and safety standards on the job or inadequate enforcement of the worker safety standards that do exist. It’s time for our elected and appointed officials to recognize that delaying workplace health and safety protections can have deadly consequences.

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On Workers' Memorial Day, Let's Remember that Regulatory Delay Can Be Deadly

 At long last, a committee on Capitol Hill held a hearing to showcase how important health and safety standards are in protecting the lives of all Americans. On April 19, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, convened the hearing to highlight the devastating impact of regulatory delay on the lives of workers and their families. Driving the point home, relatives of workers who died on the job packed the hearing room, holding pictures of their late loved ones for all to see.

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