Home Sweet Home: Congress is home for two weeks. Hopefully all of you are planning on talking to your Senators and Congresspersons at their office or doing district meetings about how cutting OSHA’s budget will mean that more workers will get hurt and die.
Blood on the Steering Wheel: The discussion about the carnage in southern auto parts suppliers continues on NPR’s On Point, with a discussion with Bloomberg Reporter Peter Waldman, who wrote the devastating article “Inside Alabama’s Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs” last month, and former OSHA head Dr. David Michaels, along with the mother of Regina Elsea who was killed in an Alabama auto parts plant last year.
Long Live the King: When Congress comes back the week of April 24, they have to pass a 2017 budget and confirm Alex Acosta as Labor Secretary. After Acosta is confirmed, we’re likely to start seeing some political appointments at the Department of Labor. Leading the field for Assistant Secretary for OSHA right now is Scott Mugno, vice president of safety, sustainability and vehicle maintenance at FedEx Ground. He’s close to the Chamber of Commerce and other business organization hostile to workers rights, and discussed issues such as obesity as a workplace hazard and sunsetting some OSHA standards. No definite word yet on who will have the extraordinarily important job of Deputy Assistant Secretary, although we should hear shortly after Acosta is confirmed. That person, who will mostly likely serve as Acting Assistant Secretary until a real Assistant Secretary is nominated and confirmed, does not need Senate confirmation.
The New Czarina: Trump seems to have chosen a regulatory gatekeeper. Neomi Rao from the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University has apparently been chosen to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs — Trump’s regulatory Chief. Rao will fit in well with Steve Bannon’s quest to “deconstruct the Administrative state,” removing regulatory protections for workers, consumers and the environment.
Injured Day Laborers: UCLA-LOSH and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) have published a report on the experiences of day laborers who are injured while working in residential settings in California, and how few injured workers benefit from workers compensation resources.
St. Louis Boiler Explosion — CSB on the case: The Chemical Safety Board will be investigating the catastrophic boiler explosion that killed four persons in St. Louis. One worker was killed at the Loy-Lange Box Company where the boiler exploded. Three others were killed 540 feet away at the Faultless Healthcare Linen Company, when piece of debris about the size of a large cargo van crashed through the roof.
Temp Workers Left Behind: “How to Make Employment Fair in an Age of Contracting and Temp Work” is the subject of an article by David Weil, former Obama Administration head of the Wage and Hour Division at the Department of Labor.
Standing Down for Safety: OSHA will be participating in a number of safety stand-downs
- OSHA will conduct it annual National Stand Down to Prevent Falls in Construction May 8-12. Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 350 of the 937 construction fatalities recorded in 2015
- OSHA Region IV will hold a stand down for workers in the landscaping industry. Events will be held at worksites throughout the region on either April 17 or 18, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m, EDT.From 2012 to 2016, 64 people employed in the industry in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi died as a result of workplace injuries. In Florida, industry fatalities have nearly tripled since 2012.
- Region IV is also doing a stand-down with the Federal Highway Administration, the state of Georgia, local government organizations and employers to train road workers on the dangers of distracted drivers, flying debris and other objects during National Highway Work Zone Awareness Week, April 3-7.