National Worker Safety Advocates Urge Quick Action by Obama Administration

For Immediate Release

National Council for Occupational Safety and Health
Contact: 

Tolle Graham - Chair, National COSH - 617-642-1878;
Celeste Monforton, Chair, APHA OHS Section - 202-994-0774;
Tom O'Connor, Coordinator, National COSH - 919 933-6322;
Tammy Miser - Executive Director, USMWF - 859-338-9144

National Worker Safety Advocates Urge Quick Action by Obama Administration

Seven Priorites Targeted to Halt Worker Deaths and Injuries

WASHINGTON - The
National Council on Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational
Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health Association
released today Protecting Workers on the Job: Seven Priorities for Federal action in 2009 , a
platform of recommendations aimed at reversing the erosion of the
worker safety protections that has put the nation's workers at a
heightened risk of injury, illness and death. The platform includes
proposals to improve worker safety and health in areas of education,
legislation and stronger enforcement of health and safety regulations.
The full platform can be found at http://www.coshnetwork.org/node/145.

"Over
the past eight years, federal job safety agencies have failed to
fulfill their promise to protect workers' health and safety on the job.
Workers continue to be killed and injured on the job at appallingly
high rates, yet federal OSHA refuses to issue new protective standards
or adequately enforce existing safety and health rules," said Tolle
Graham, president of the National COSH. "Acts of gross negligence or criminal behavior leading to workplace deaths result in minor fines. And millions
of public safety employees--the very workers that protect us all from
natural or deliberate disasters--are outside the jurisdiction of
federal OSHA entirely."

The
platform released today is centered on correcting these failures of the
Occupational Safety and Health Act by expanding workers' rights to a
safe and healthy workplace and increasing the effectiveness of OSHA
enforcement. Highlights of the platform include:

  • Increase Worker Rights to safety and health protections:  All workers should be covered by comprehensive, worksite-specific injury and illness prevention programs

  • Extend OSHA Coverage to all Employees and Address Unregulated Hazards

  • Strengthen OSHA's Penalty Structure to Ensure Effective Deterrence

"No
one knows and feels the consequences of these problems more than the
victims and their loved ones. We need to act now to save others from
the pain and suffering these preventable tragedies bring", said Tammy
Miser of United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities [USMWF.]
Ms. Miser's brother was killed by a dust explosion at a Hays Lemmerz
aluminum wheel plant in Indiana.

The
platform recognizes the intrinsic link between work and family life and
the dear price that families pay when workers become injured or lose
their lives."We're very encouraged to know that the Vice President will
be leading a taskforce examining this very issue, and we'd welcome
participating in that process, said Dr. Celeste Monforton of George
Washington University School of Public Health and Chair of the
Occupational Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health
Association.

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The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health is a federation of 21 local and statewide "COSH" groups--Committees/Coalitions on Occupational Safety and Health (www.coshnetwork.org). APHA is the largest and most diverse public health organization in the world (www.apha.org). United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF) is the only US organization dedicated to families who have had a loss in the workplace (www.usmwf.org).

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