Introducing Confined Space 2.0.

I was hoping to wait a bit longer to start this up, but with crippling budget cuts being proposed, Bannon’s plans to deconstruct the administrative state (to be replaced by the corporate state), repeals of recently issued OSHA regulations and “regulatory reform” initiatives in the White House and Congress that would remove protections from  workers, I can’t wait any longer.  I haven’t quite figured out all of the technical aspects yet. (Things have changed over the last ten years.) So this may be kind of like moving into a house that’s still being built around me — you’ll probably be seeing some changes in appearance over the next few weeks. Bear with me.

When I started the original Confined Space in March 2003, I wrote:

There are millions of people out there who go to work every day fearing that they won’t come home alive or healthy at the end of the day; or that they won’t live long enough to enjoy their retirement. Some are in unions, most aren’t. They all need to know that there are technical resources out there. And they all need to know that politics matters, voting matters — in national and local elections. It matters in big ways and small way, but it also matters in how safe their workplaces are going to be. It matters whether their children are going to grow up with unhealthy injured parents, or no parents at all. People need to understand that everything is connected. Tax cuts, growing deficits, appropriations, executive orders, regulatory “reform,” — it all affects our safety every day.

In other words, how you vote determines to a great extent your chance of coming home alive and healthy at the end of the workday.  And, while we’re at it — how much you’ll be paid, what kind of benefits you’ll get, what rights you have in the workplace and what your retirement will be like.

When I wrapped it up in February 2007, more than 15 workers were killed every day on the job in this country. The overwhelming majority of deaths, injuries and illnesses could have been easily prevented had the employers simply provided a safe workplace and complied with well-recognized OSHA standards or other safe work practices. Today the number of people we lose every day in the workplace is down to 13 workers per day — better, but still way too many, and almost all of those, and the millions of serious injuries — can be prevented.

While OSHA has issued several major new standards and expanded workers rights over the past several years, resources have suffered.  In 2007,  federal OSHA could inspect every workplace in the country once every 133 years, today that number is once every 145 years. State plans have fared much worse. Ten years ago, state plan states could inspect each workplace once every 62 years. Today that figure is once every 97 years. The current level of federal and state OSHA inspectors provides one inspector for every 74,760 workers. 10 years ago that number was one inspector for every 63,670 workers.  And the current administration is already threatening to slash the budget, and roll back regulatory protections and workers’ rights.

The result will be more workers killed, more sick, more injured. We need to fight together for workers’ lives and I hope to provide here some of the information and tools necessary for that fight.

Finally, I have a few favors to ask:

  • Spread it around: If you like it,  spread it around. I’m not just writing this for policy wonks in Washington. This is also for workers who need to know more about their safety and health in the workplace and the political context in which they work. I’d like to have this linked in as many local and national union and COSH webpages as possible. And make full use of Twitter, Facebook, etc., social media platforms that didn’t exist the when I stopped blogging over ten years ago.
  • Write me: I’d like your opinions. What you like, don’t like, what there should be more of, less of….  There’s also a comment box. Use it. But don’t abuse it. Right now, they’re un-moderated — anything goes. I welcome healthy discussion, even from those I don’t agree with. But if a comment is inappropriate (and you know what that means), I will delete it. If there are too many inappropriate comments, I will start moderating them.  When it comes to comments, I am God almighty. Don’t mess with me.
  • Subscribe: Never miss an important development! If you look to the right, there’s a “Subscribe” widget which will provide you with an email every time I post something. For those of you who are always complaining that they don’t get enough email, what could be better?
  • Contribute:
    • Money: Last time I did this, I wrote it all after work and after putting kids to bed. Now the kids are gone, I don’t have a real job and I’m way too old to write late into the night. So feel free to make liberal use of the “Tip Jar” up on the right.
    • Ideas and leads: I want to make sure I cover as many significant events in workplace safety as I can. That means things happening in local areas around the country that I’ll only learn about if you send me stuff.


16 thoughts on “We’re back….”
  1. Glad you’re back in this space, Jordan. I’ll support Confined Space 2.0 as best I can. Would be easier if the words “health” and “healthy” were alongside “safe” and “safety” in the blog and discussions. Yes, the numbers of workers killed outright at work have gone down (and need to be much, much less). At the same time, bullying and other forms of violence, chemicals, air quality and more, are taking an increasing toll on people’s health. As you know, it usually happens invisibly and without being counted. Anything to make the worker’s health issues more visible would be great. Look forward to the conversations.

  2. Great to see you back in the blog business! Looking forward to much important content, great discussion & important dialog.

  3. I will advise my labor contacts in Missouri and Kansas to follow your writing as it remains among the most insightful looks at where we’ve been, and where we as a Nation are headed.

  4. Glad to have you back in this particular part of the game. All things considered, I think it’s probably more important now than it ever was!

  5. I see you deleted my comment bc I disagreed with you. Since you don’t have a “real job” as you stated, I encourage you to consider applying for a “real job” as a Safety Director for a company so you can experience what it takes to run a safety program for a business entity and work with many different variables. Then perhaps you will have a “real world” understanding of Safety and Health Management. I like the words that Don Elisburg used……… “muckracking”.

    1. I did not delete your comment. It’s on another post (the next one up “URGENT: Senate Poised to Take Away Worker Safety Protections”). Even though I disagree with you (as I wrote in my response), I’m happy to have comments that disagree with me as long as you’re courteous.

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