Washington, D.C., January 6, 2009
—Advocates for worker health and safety today released recommendations for reversing the erosion of protections for the nation’s workers. Citing lagging federal enforcement of existing standards and inaction on passing tougher new standards, the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Occupational Health and Safety Section and the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health called for immediate action to minimize work-related injuries and illnesses that can cause serious health problems.
The recommendations include:
· increasing worker rights to safety and health protections, including covering all workers by comprehensive, worksite-specific injury and illness prevention programs;
· extending Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) coverage to all employees and addressing unregulated hazards; and
· strengthening OSHA's penalty structure to ensure effective deterrence.
“For the last eight years, federal agencies have not done nearly enough to enforce worker health and safety standards already on the books, and have done almost nothing to pass tougher new standards based on clear scientific evidence of harm to workers,” said Celeste Monforton, MPH, DrPH, chair of APHA’s Occupational Health and Safety Section and with the George Washington University School of Pubic Health. “We hope these recommendations will serve as a blueprint for action for the new administration.”
“Ensuring the health of all workers is an important part of a broader effort to protect the health of all Americans,” said Cheryl Easley, PhD, RN, president of the American Public Health Association. “We look forward to working with the new administration and Labor Secretary-designate Solis in improving the health and safety of our workers.”
The recommendations are outlined in Protecting Workers on the Job: Seven Priorities for Federal Action in 2009, which can be found at http://www.apha.org/NR/rdonlyres/FCA6DC31-545A-4561-BB58-FD924EA7A37D/0/ProtectingWorkersontheJobJan2009.pdf.
APHA is the largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health is a federation of 21 local and statewide "COSH" groups — Committees/Coalitions on Occupational Safety and Health. More information is available at www.apha.org and www.coshnetwork.org.