Speaking at the United Steelworkers Health, Safety and Environment Conference in Pittsburgh earlier this month, OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels said:

“Mandatory safety and health programs can't come soon enough. In recent months we have witnessed a series of intolerable workplace tragedies: Seven workers were killed in a refinery fire in Anacortes, Washington; 29 coal miners perished in the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia; 11 more workers were lost in the Deepwater Horizon explosion off the coast of Louisiana; and when the Kleen Energy power plant construction site in Connecticut blew up on Super Bowl Sunday, six more workers were killed.

“The idea of an Injury and Illness Prevention Program is hardly new. Thousands of the best workplaces in America already have these programs, and employers who implement them find that the resulting efficiencies, worker productivity and lower costs make their workplaces highly competitive.

“These programs level the playing field in both domestic and global markets, allowing responsible employers to survive whether the economy is in a surge or in a slump.

“But these programs work only when they give workers a voice and a role in the process of making workplaces safer and more healthful.

“And we know that safety and health programs fail if workers aren't at the table as full participants. I think it was Charlie Richardson who said it best yesterday – ‘If you are not at the table, you're on the menu.’