Today (April 28, 2013) is Workers’ Memorial Day. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) has made a series of recommendations to reduce the number of workplace fatalities, which still number more than 4,000 per year in the U.S.
The recommendations are part of National COSH’s report, Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities.
The reforms called for are a mix of steps that could be taken by federal OSHA, the U.S. Congress and states.
National COSH recommends federal OSHA should:
- enact its proposed Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2), which would require companies to identify and reduce hazards
- ensure staffing agencies and companies that employ temporary workers are held accountable for providing safe and healthy working conditions
- ensure workers are adequately trained in a language that they understand
- monitor state OSHA programs to ensure they are effectively enforcing workplace safety and health regulations, and
- collect and share information on workplace fatalities so the public can turn these deaths into lessons for prevention.
It recommends Congress should pass:
- immigration reform legislation which would bring undocumented workers out of the shadows and give them protection from retaliation for reporting hazards and injuries
- the Protecting America’s Workers Act which would make felony charges possible when repeat and willful violations result in a worker’s death or serious injury and would increase other OSHA penalties, and
- the Robert Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act which would give MSHA officials the ability to shut down habitually dangerous mines and hold mine operators accountable for putting workers in unnecessary danger.
Finally, National COSH says states should:
- coordinate enforcement with various labor department offices, such as wage and hour divisions and workers’ compensation programs (California, Massachusetts and New Jersey have these programs)
- pass legislation to protect temporary workers on the job (Massachusetts has a law that requires temporary staffing agencies to give each worker a written job order)
- pass responsible contractor laws to ensure taxpayer funds aren’t used to provide public works contracts to employers who cut corners on safety, and
- pass legislation for minimum penalty amounts for citations related to workplace fatalities (Minnesota legislation would require a $25,000 minimum find and $50,000 for cases involving repeat or willful violations).
What do you think about these proposals? Let us know in the comments below.