Also, if you liked it when National COSH rocked the Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC in June to stand up for a strong silica rule, you'll love the action we're planning in Chicago on Day One of the APHA conference. If you can, save some time Saturday afternoon, October 31st from 3pm to 5pm, and stay tuned for more details.
Advanced registration for the APHA Annual Meeting goes through September 17, and will allow you to save $60.
If you are planning to attend, send an email to Peter Dooley. We look forward to engaging with you on issues of worker health and safety.
Safety Groups to Obama: No Safety Cuts, No Poison Pills
On August 5, National COSH, Public Citizen, and a coalition of over 70 worker safety, environmental, and public interest organizations sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to reject appropriations bills recently approved by committees in the both the House and Senate. These industry-backed bills will severely cut Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) funding, block the much-delayed OSHA rule on silica dust exposure, and â€“ in the House version â€“ de-fund the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program.
National COSH and our allies will continue to organize against cuts and legislative â€œpoison pillâ€ riders that will undermine worker health and safety.
Advocating for Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces
Last year, President Barack Obama announced an Executive Order (EO) to ensure that federal contractors comply with labor laws. This past Spring, the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics Administration proposed rules for implementation of the presidentâ€™s order; and the Department of Labor issued a guidance document on the EO.
While National COSH applauds the administrationâ€™s action -- Executive Order 13673 for Fair Pay Safe Workplaces â€“ and generally supports the proposed implementation, we have submitted comments pointing out various areas where the rules should be strengthened. In part, National COSH says that the Federal Government should:
Make clear that both contractors and subcontractors must report labor law violations and violations of the OSH Act and take prompt action to remedy these violations;
Increase transparency of labor law violations by contractors and subcontractors, and contract decisions by federal departments and agencies;
Make explicit that workers and worker advocates have a right to provide information on prospective contractors, and that departments and agencies must take this information into consideration;
Protect whistle-blowers who provide such information.
Crimes and Punishments
COSH groups have long argued that Criminal prosecutions of employers can help prevent future workplace tragedies. We are encouraged by five recent instances of prosecutorial action:
Manslaughter charges in the April 6th death of Carlos Moncayo, who was crushed in a trench collapse in New York City;
A $6 million fine levied against Bumble Bee Foods by the Los Angeles District Attorney. Their employee Jose Melena burned to death at a tuna processing plant in 2012;
The sentencing of two executives for manslaughter in the 2012 death of Raul Zapata in Milpitas, California;
The indictment of a Philadelphia roofing company owner for covering up safety violations in the wake of the 2013 death of Mark T. Smith;
The upcoming trial of former Massey Energy CEO Donald Blankenship on charges of conspiracy to violate mine safety laws.
You can read more about these case on the National COSH blog.
Worker Fatality Project releases 2015 data
The U.S. Worker Fatality Data Project, which is hosted at the National COSH website, released data for the first seven months of 2015. Volunteer researchers documented 1,073 fatalities due to traumatic injuries in the workplace in this year. The database provides, where available, the name of the deceased, the employer, industry, cause of death, and links to more information.
At our website, readers may learn more about the project and how to report a worker fatality.
Based on previous data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, advocates estimate that 4,500 workers will die on the job in the U.S. in 2015.
August 16th marked the third anniversary of the death of Duquan â€œDayâ€ Davis. Davis was crushed to death on his very first day of work at a Bacardi bottling plant in Jacksonville, Florida. In order to honor the memory of Day Davis and raise awareness about the specific hazards and risks faced by temporary workers in America, National COSH initiated a one-day Twitter conversation, using the hashtag #DemandTempSafety. Over fifty individuals and organizations took part, and you can see all their posts on the subject here.
To learn more about Day Davis, read this interview with Dave DeSario, the producer of A Dayâ€™s Work, a film about Davisâ€™ life and death.
DuPont's Safety Charade
This summer, OSHA placed the DuPont USA in a â€œsevere violatorâ€ program. As documented in recent articles in the Delaware News Journal and The Intercept and a photo essay in The Houston Chronicle, DuPontâ€™s recent history of industrial accidents, cover-ups of hazards, and worker deaths contrast sharply with the firmâ€™s self-proclaimed reputation for occupational safety.
In an op-ed that appeared in The Houston Chronicle and Austin American-Statesman, National COSH Deputy Director Jessica Martinez and public health educator Celeste Monforton called for an end to the chemical firmâ€™s â€œsafety charade,â€ critiquing a flawed safety program that the companyâ€™s consulting arm sells to other companies.
â€œA company where workers died on the job because of bad equipment, failed inspections and flawed procedures,â€ said the authors, â€œhas no business advising anybody else on safety.â€
*** Please note that National COSH informational brochures are now available
in English and Spanish.