Today's News

The fightin' side of OSHA: "The maddening struggle" (9/10)

September 10, 2009
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

For the past 10-20 years industry has been able to turn a deaf ear to OSHA by and large, as the agency was muzzled by the Bush administration and has its mission muddled by the Clinton administrations attempts at “reinventing” OSHA into a friendlier, more consultative agency.

Those days are gone. Organized labor today has more friends and access at the Department of Labor than at any time since the 1970s. Both of Labor Secretary Solis’s parents were staunch union members. Acting chief Barab was a national union safety director for much of the 1980s and into the 1990s. Both Solis’s and Barab’s early speeches have been filled with “fightin’ words” to get across the message that OSHA as cop is back on the beat.

Consider this except from an August speech Barab gave to the United Steelworkers union:

“After almost thirty years in this field, I find it astonishing, aggravating and insulting that we are still fighting these battles for basic workers' rights in far too many workplaces across our nation.

“Progress has not come easy for workers in this country. Every incremental improvement in working conditions has been earned with blood and broken bones, in battles won and lost in thousands of workplaces and union halls across the country. Too many of those advances came too late, only after we counted the lives destroyed by workplace hazards that could and should have been prevented.

“As angry as I get about the sometimes maddeningly slow struggle for something as basic as protecting workers, I'm filled with hope when I see the dedicated labor and management health and safety activists in this room.”

With hot rhetoric like this, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers are on OSHA alert. In particular, their lawyers are lined up waiting for the agency to make a move at revising the ergonomics rule, which Barab has said is on the table. The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors is on record opposing Democratic-sponsored “OSHA reform” legislation that would raise enforcement penalty values and make it easier to prosecute employers at worksites where fatalities or multiple injury incidents have occurred.

If the economic climate improves during the next year, clearing skies will make it easier for OSHA to pursue an aggressive enforcement and standards agenda.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.


Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon



Image Galleries

ASSE Safety 2014 Review

A gallery of photos from the sprawling Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 8-11. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

9/30/14 2:00 pm EST

Leveraging Sustainability Initiatives to Benefit Your Community and Increase Compliance

This webinar will review how General Motors' Sustainability initiatives are being leveraged to improve the community and the environment, create efficient energy programs, improve sustainability tracking, impact on processes and overall reporting and improve overall social, environmental and corporate sustainability.

ISHN Magazine


2014 September

ISHN'S September issue features a series of essay on thought leadership. Get expert advice on self-motivation, compliance and more!

Table Of Contents Subscribe


M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - SEPTEMBER 2014

ISHN FDO SEPTEMBER 2014For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THE SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.