Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Battle for Workplace Safety: Short Stuff

Poison Food, Poisoned Workers: Eyal Press of The Intercept writes about chronic health problems that have plagued Jessica Robertson since she began working as a  part-time U.S. Department of Agriculture poultry inspector at a turkey processing plant, most likely from peracetic acid which is used to remove bacteria from the carcasses of chickens and turkeys. USDA had ignored…

Acosta Refuses To Commit to Preserving OSHA Recordkeeping Rule

In a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee today, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta today refused to commit not to rescind OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping rule. The rule, issued in 2016, requires employers to send injury and illness information into OSHA and prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for reporting injuries. The electronic recordkeeping rule has…

OSHA Issues Tiny Penalty for Three Communication Tower Deaths

OSHA has fined Tower King II Inc. $12,934 for the death of three workers who were attempting to install a new antenna on a communications tower in Miami. This is the maximum fine for one serious citation. OSHA has no standard specifically targeted to cell tower worker safety and used the General Duty Clause, which requires…

Indiana OSHA Cuts Penalty 94% for Fatality at Indiana Auto Parts Facility

Last October, Melissa Stephens went to work on third shift at Autonium in Jeffersonville, Indiana. She never came home to her husband of  20 years or her four children. Stephens had apparently gone through the interlocked gate, to put a fiber pad over a broken seal. But a spinning belt and pully dragged her into a…

Government Shutdown: What Does It Mean For OSHA — And For Workers

As we go to press, it looks likely that the federal government, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, will shut down at midnight tomorrow night — for the second time in less than 5 years. I have two vivid memories from the last government shutdown in 2013 and how it affected OSHA and American…

Do Fewer OSHA Inspectors Matter?

One sign that anti-OSHA conservatives are getting nervous about articles (and television appearances) highlighting the declining number of OSHA inspectors are articles questioning whether government plays a useful role in protecting workers. In this case, the Reason Foundation, which “advances a free society by developing, applying, and promoting libertarian principles, including individual liberty, free markets, and…

Trump Slashes OSHA Staffing, Endangering Workers

When the same party controls the White House and both houses of Congress, there is always a danger that Congress will fail to provide appropriate oversight over government agencies. Congress is tasked with ensuring that government agencies are actually doing what the law says they are supposed to do, and that they use their budget…