ISHN Guest BlogDear Honorable Secretary Thomas E. Perez

I am writing in strong support of OSHA inspecting our nation’s Grain Storage Facilities.

Our family has suffered a terrible loss of our son in a grain facility nearly 21 years ago and I have been fighting ever since to make all grain storage facilities a safer place to work. I also started the Fight Project (Families In Grief Hold Together) to help educate and help the families and businesses alike become safer and more aware of the dangers of working in these very dangerous facilities. I help the families of workers killed or injured on the job, and I can tell you this, not one of the 12 men and women killed on the job today, killed themselves. These workers were ordered to do an unsafe job by a small businessman, corporate leader, or family farmer.

I am responding to an article in the BNA Reporter, where I understand 43 Senators sent you a letter about OSHA overstepping its bounds to issue citations and penalties on a farm in Nebraska. I believe all parties need to step back and think about what’s important here, it not fines, citations, politics, inspections, regulations. IT’S life or death.

Mr. Secretary, there is nothing in our Constitution that gives the right to a small businessman, corporate leader, or family farmer, to take another man’s life. In fact the OSHA Act gives all employees the right to have a safe and healthy workplace and has the authority to make sure that all workplaces are safe and healthy. This issue is not about Government intrusion, it’s about life and death.

I’m a small business owner myself, and I believe if a business owner, a farmer, whomever, wants to do something dangerous, like going into a grain bin with the auger running, or climb on a scaffold unguarded or use some dangerous chemical, they should be able to take their life in their own hands and the government should have no say. But when you order or cause someone else’s life to be in danger, we should draw a line and step in to protect the workers.

I know OSHA is not perfect. In 2010 we had the worst year for deaths in grain bins ever and even with all the publicity, and attention OSHA has given this type of death, we still have companies, family farms, co-ops, sending workers in unsafe bins with augers running, no safety lines, no observers or help of any kind. This is nothing but criminal behavior. I respectfully request, you please search your conscience for the right way to proceed. I know with all the folks connected to this debate, someone will be the voice of reason.

I am thanking you in advance for reviewing this most important matter, and I wish you all the best. If I can help in any way please feel free to call on me.

Ron Hayes

755 Morphy Ave
Fairhope Al. 36532