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

Everyone is affected by its [OSHA’s] pervasive coverage, orientation toward imposing penalties and its incredibly complex regulations and standards.…However, OSHA standards are complex and often require expert interpretation. For smaller businesses, the cost of deciphering which regulations apply to them and then determining if they conform can be excessive.

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Chamber of Commerce newsletter, June, 1973.

We don’t think it adequately protects proprietary information. Competing companies will be looking with a careful eye to acquire that information. Chemists and analysts could pick up one of those sheets and say ‘Aha! So that’s what they’re using!”

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James Mortford, executive director of the Chemical Industry Council of New Jersey.

If in the candy business, people engaged in this line in other states who come to New York for their product are unable to receive it, they will take their trade away from the State of New York and give it to other states where this work can be produced in greater volume possibly at a reduced price.

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Alfred J. Talley of the Confectioners Association for the State of New York. Only date available: 1913.
01/01/1913 | Full Details | Law(s): Triangle Factory Laws

One must keep in mind that certain of the above products are consumer oriented....A Warning label would be a substantial and unnecessary deterrent to the sale of these products. Since these products are not hazardous under any conditions, they should not be labeled as such. Their demise would mean the abolition of thousands of jobs at the manufacturing, distribution, contractor, and retailer levels.

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GAF Corporation comment, no specific author.
03/14/1972 | Full Details | Law(s): OSHA's Asbestos Standard

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.