About Confined Space

What happens inside the Beltway matters outside the Beltway

Workplace Safety, OSHA and Workers: How to survive.

Why: Over 4800 workers are killed every year in the workplace — 13 every day. Thousands more die of work related disease and 4 million workers are seriously injured every year. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Act gives workers a right to a safe workplace, and provides for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce that right, workplace safety and health protections are increasingly under attack. OSHA is a tiny agency and under constant attack from the Trump administration and the business community. Today, the agency is only able to inspect workplaces on average, only once every 145 years.

In order to prevent getting hurt or ill in the workplace, workers and the groups that assist them need information about workplace hazards, the tools to fight for workplace safety and information about how to ensure that a workplace is safe. They also need to understand the political context in which these rights exist, and how to ensure that they aren’t weakened.

There are millions of people in this country 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. Most speak English, a lot don’t. Some know their rights, most don’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. Politics and voting affect workers’ likelihood of coming home alive and healthy,  how much they’re getting paid and what their rights are. Everything is connected — tax cuts, growing deficits, federal budgets, executive orders, regulatory “reform” — it all affects workplace safety every day.


About me: My name is Jordan Barab. I was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA from 2009 to 2017, and I spent 16 years running the safety and health program at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). I also worked for the House Education and Labor Committee, the Chemical Safety Board, the AFL-CIO and an earlier stint at OSHA during the Clinton administration.

This newsletter follows my original blog, Confined Space (2003-2007)

Here is what the other side of my brain is doing when not writing: Photography and Instagram


Help Me: I’ve found writing much more worthwhile if people actually read what I’m writing and act on it.  The more Confined Space is linked in newsletters of unions and worker rights groups; the more articles are linked in Facebook and Twitter, the more people will read, and hopefully act on what they read. (Hint, hint…)

Also, I’m writing this while living through the netherworld of semi-retirement/ consulting/unemployment (depending on my mood), but the longer I can sustain that existence financially, the longer I can write this and the more time I can spend on it. So feel free to make liberal use the “Tip Jar” on the main page, early and often.

February 20, 2017