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

In many of the major industries the programs in occupational safety and health are successful, are well advanced, and have been developed to the point where the important remaining problem is human failure.

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Leo Teplow, vice-president and lead lobbyist for American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), testimony, Senate Subcommittee hearings on Labor and Public Welfare.

[The right-to-know law] would make it very difficult to maintain a business in the community.

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Thacher Longstreth, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

We think the message here is that legislation that is punitive toward business and heedless of the impact on the economy of this City adds to the flight of business investment. The results of this are greater economic stagnation, fewer jobs, and deterioration in the public health and welfare.

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President of the W.N. Stevenson Company and representative of the Northeastern Chemical Distributors Council.

I believe that Congress and the people must realize that if this bill…is passed, we are direct[ing] attention to less than 10 percent of the safety problems in the country….From my own personal experience and evaluation of available statistics, the basic cause (85% to 95%) of occupational injuries is some type of ‘people failure.’ Inadequate equipment or facilities accounts for a very small percent of the total injuries experienced….‘people failure’ cannot be eliminated by legislation.

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J. Sharpe Queener, Safety Director for Du Pont Co. and representative of the U.S Chamber of Commerce, Testimony, Senate Subcommittee on Labor and Public Welfare.

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.