Workplace Safety

Workplace Safety

Death, injury, and illness haunt the American workplace. Although injury and deaths rates have fallen over the last 40 years an average of 12 workers still die on the job every day. More than 50,000 workers die every year from occupational illnesses. Tragedies like the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, which killed 146 workers created public demand for workplace safety laws.  Recent disasters such as the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine and Deepwater Horizon Oil rig continue to show the need for stronger health and safety standards and enforcement.


Hotel housekeepers are repeatedly injured on the job.

Cutting Back on Housekeepers' Heavy Lifting

August 02, 2011

"What did we set up the government for?"

May 31, 2011
Triangle Fire Tragedy

The Fire Last Time

March 12, 2011
US Capitol building

Darrel Issa’s Government Handover

January 05, 2011

Cry Wolf Quotes

The provisions of this bill are extremely open-ended, and encumber both employers and Cal/OSHA with many unreasonable administrative burdens and costs.

Western States Petroleum Association letter to Assemblyman Mike Honda, Chairman, Public Safety Committee.

… the construction industry is involved in Voluntary Protection Programs with their employees to help encourage safety precautions and identify possible dangers before an injury occurs. AB 1127 does nothing to encourage this type of cooperation between employers and employees to promote worksite safety.

Associated General Contractors of San Diego letter to Public Safety Committee.

Vague statutory requirements and misguided management over the years have given OSHA one of the worst track records in the history of federal agencies. As a result of OSHA operations, the costs of doing business have increased substantially among affected industries. In addition, many employers, both business and farming, have complained of harassment, lack of adequate technical advice, and total disregard for local operations or the realities of doing business….For years, I have introduced and co-sponsored bills to eliminate small businesses from coverage of OSHA….I can think of few other issues which have so consistently irritated my constituents…I shall certainly continue my efforts to eliminate the costly and counterproductive practices of OSHA which lead to uncertainty, increased disillusionment with the federal government, and which show questionable benefits in terms of increased health and safety.

Senator John Tower (R-TX) writes to A.L. Simmons, Safety Director, Whittacker Corporation.

The new regulations would crown the Secretary as a virtual safety czar. He would have power to decree what is safe and healthy in any private business. He could shut down a machine or an entire plant if he detects ‘imminent harm.’

Chamber of Commerce magazine, Nation’s Business. April, 1968.


Backgrounders & Briefs

Dying To Know: A Historical Analysis of the Right-To-Know Movement

This survey provides a sweeping analysis of the right-to-know movement in America.

2011 Death on the Job

The AFL-CIO's annual report about death, illness, and injury at work.

Health and Safety at Work in Europe (1999-2007): A Statistical Portrait

An extraordinarily detailed report that gives a good idea of just how far behind the U.S. in comparison to other developed nations.

Gauging Control Technology and Regulatory Impacts in Occupational Safety and Health

Information on multiple OSHA regulations and their costs. In almost every case, the regulations were far cheaper than the agency estimated.


University of California-Berkeley Labor Center carries out research on labor and workplace-related issues.

Institute for Women’s Policy Research is a prominent think tank that is largely focused on American women's issues. This covers everything from pay equity to welfare reform to domestic violence.

The Service Employees International Union represents workers the public sector and a variety of industries in the United States.

Occupational Safety and Health Agency is responsible for government oversight of workplace health and safety. They can issue regulations and conduct investigations of specific industries and workplaces.