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Hare: Worker Deaths the Human Cost of an Ineffective OSHA

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Hare: Worker Deaths the Human Cost of an Ineffective OSHA

Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, today released the following statement after Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Education and Labor Workforce Protections Subcommittee, reintroduced the Protecting America's Workers Act, a bill to amend OSHA to cover more workers, increase penalties, and improve accountability.

"Saturday is Workers' Memorial Day, a solemn occasion when people around the world remember those men and women who lost their lives in the workplace.

"No one—and I mean no one—should die doing their job.

"For decades, OSHA was a driving force in improving workplace safety and health conditions across the country.

"But more recently, OSHA has become weakened to the point where it is almost obsolete.

"The Bush Administration has abolished dozens of worker protection measures under development at OSHA, including ergonomics standards and planned rules on cancer causing substances, reactive chemicals, and infectious diseases.

"Downsizing OSHA and reigning in its jurisdiction has real life or death consequences. The workers and families we will mourn this weekend—they are the human cost of indifference when it comes to workplace safety.

"OSHA regulations are more than just words—they are often the only protection employees have from workplace hazards that can injure, sicken, or kill them.

"Democrats and Republicans alike can agree that our goal should be to protect every single worker. As Assistant Labor Secretary Ed Foulke said in a House hearing this week, ‘One fatality is one fatality too many.'"

"I believe he means that sincerely. Here is the problem. This Administration is so committed to its corporate friends that nothing—not even the health and safety of America's workers—is reason enough to ask employers to pay their fair share.

"It took the AFL-CIO and others filing suit for OSHA to issue its only major standard in this Administration's six-year tenure.

"Let's be clear. Accidents happen. And there are thousands of employers doing the right thing. But too many, emboldened by an Administration overly sympathetic to their bottom line, are cutting corners. Or worse—making no effort at all.

"The Protecting America's Workers Act would cover millions of additional workers, increase penalties for companies that break the law, and above all— return OSHA to the critical regulatory body it was originally designed to be."

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