The National Council on Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Health and Safety Section of the American Public Health Association released yesterday “Protecting Workers on the Job: Seven Priorities for Federal action in 2009.” According to a press release from the National COSH, the list represents “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.”

"Over the past eight years, federal job safety agencies have failed to fulfill their promise to protect workers' health and safety on the job,” said Tolle Graham, president of the National COSH in a statement. ”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. 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.”

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

In what amounts to another wish list submitted to the new administration by interest groups marginalized during the Bush years, these seven federal safety and health priorities for workers have been endorsed by more than 50 unions, environmental groups, community and immigrant organizations, according to National COSH.