Today's News

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

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.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Scenes from the World of Safety

Sights, signs & symbols from the National Safety Congress & Expo held in San Diego, CA, September 15-18

4/21/15 2:00 pm EDT

The Safety Selfie: It’s time to take a “snap shot” of your safety program and contemplate what others see

We all know perception is reality and that people perceive things differently. As a safety manager, your perception of your safety program almost certainly differs from that of your workers and your managers. We will use our “Safety Selfies” to expose weaknesses, real and perceived, and to talk about how best to make improvements.

ISHN Magazine

ISHN0415_cover.jpg

2015 April

Check out ISHN's April issue, which features content about lockout-tagout, heat stress, hearing protection and more!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

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 - January 2015

FDO JAN 2015 COVER

 

For 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 JANUARY 2015 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

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.