Give OSHA ToolsFollowing up on its article (and my blog post) on the tragic trench death of DJ Meyer last December, the Kansas City Star has published a strong editorial calling on the Trump administration to “appoint a permanent leader for OSHA without delay. The agency should pursue an aggressive role in adopting workplace safety rules. And Congress should give OSHA the tools it needs to protect the nation’s workforce.”

Meyer was killed in a trench collapse last December. OSHA issued a $700,000 citation after the company was also found to be endangering workers at another site two weeks later.

The case is “sad and infuriating,” wrote Jordan Barab, a former deputy assistant secretary of labor at OSHA.

“Being put in a position to choose between your job and your life is not a position anyone should be in,” he said.

Yet OSHA’s role in protecting workers and penalizing companies that violate workplace safety rules appears under increasing pressure from President Donald Trump’s White House and its campaign against government regulation.

The editorial cites the Trump administration’s failure to nominate an Assistant Secretary, its rollback of regulatory protections for workers and spending cuts proposed by the White House — and even deeper cuts proposed by Republicans in the House of Representatives.

“By amending and eliminating regulations that are ineffective, duplicative and obsolete, the administration can promote economic growth and innovation and protect individual liberty,” the Office of Management and Budget says, referring to reducing government rules in OSHA and other departments.

There is no reference to protecting life or safety.

Yet that’s exactly what OSHA was designed to do — and it works. Since 1970, when OSHA was established, workplace deaths have been cut by two-thirds.

Great editorial from a major paper in a state that voted 57% for Trump. As we move closer to the FY 2018 budget and elections next year, let’s hope that other papers follow the Star’s example, and that America’s politicians — and voters — pay attention.

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