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.

Commentary

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

This fight's not over… The best-intentioned employer isn't going to be able to figure out [the standards], even if he has hundreds of lawyers. It's like getting your arms around a bowl of Jell-O.

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Randy Johnson, a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Los Angeles Times.

...this is a very dangerous measure that will seriously affect virtually every employer in the state. The only outcome form this measure’s approval would be the closing of many businesses which, in-turn, would throw thousands of employees out of their jobs.

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Philip M. Vermeulen on behalf of the Engineering Contractors’ Association, the California Fence Contractors Association, the Sacramento Builders’ Exchange, the Marin Builders’ Exchange and the California Chapter of the American Fence Contractors’ Association.

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

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

We are particularly intrigued by the term byssinosis a thing thought up by venal doctors who attended last year’s ILO [International Labor Organization] meetings in Africa, where inferior races are bound to be afflicted by new diseases more superior people defeated years ago...As a matter of fact, we referred to the ‘cotton fever’ earlier, when we pointed out that a good chaw of B.L. dark would take care of it, or some snuff...Well, we want to tell Mr. [James] O’Hara [D-MI] that, and for all our life, we have hated federal interference in our lives businesses…Congressman O’Hara is typical of the lousy representation we get from time-serving Northern Democrats who sell their souls to the venal labor leaders.

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Unsigned editorial in America’s Textile Reporter, a trade publication.

Evidence

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.

Resources

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.