In the last two years, the California Legislature has provided the Department of Industrial Relations with significantly increased financial resources to enhance the effectiveness of Cal/OSHA and better protect the 19 million workers in the state. DIR has failed to take full advantage of these resources to strengthen Cal/OSHA while at the same time it has provided refunds to employers who have paid the fees that generate these unused resources. The net effect is a Cal/OSHA that is weaker and less effective than it could be if all available resources were put to work. The people who pay the cost of these resources “left on the table” are the workers of California and their families and communities.
Labor unions are becoming de facto immigrant rights groups; Trump pick to head MSHA is a former coal executive; Cal/OSHA opens more investigations into Goodwill's safety conditions; and a new memorial honors first responders who became ill after exposures during the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
Scholars at research institutions and non-profit organizations had a busy year publishing their findings on the impact of work on health. The final section of "The Year in U.S. Occupational Health & Safety" offers our picks for the best publications from the peer-reviewed and grey literature.
Journalists played an important role last year in bringing attention to the human toll of workplace hazards. One section of "The Year in US Occupational Health & Safety" is devoted to the best reporting from national and regional reporters.
At the federal level, worker safety and health policies swung from high points to low points over the last 12 months. Those highs and lows--from new OSHA protections issued by the Obama administration to proposed rollbacks of funding and regulations by the Trump administration. Many of the highs and lows are described in the sixth edition of The Year in U.S. Occupational Health and Safety.
For the sixth year in a row, we present “The Year in U.S. Occupational Health & Safety,” our attempt to document the year’s highs and lows as well as the challenges ahead.
Reporters investigate the deaths of five workers at Tampa Electric; OSHA removes worker fatality information from its home page; more workers sue Fraser Shipyards for hazardous lead exposures; and the Secret Service runs out of money to pay its agents.
The feds grant billions in contracts to shipbuilders with serious worker safety lapses; Texas lawmakers want to undo an Austin initiative that protects construction workers; Chevron agrees to highest fine in Cal/OSHA history after refinery fire; and Democrats hope to ban a dangerous pesticide after EPA fails to act.
With so many threats to public health arising each month, it can be hard to catch all of them. The Union of Concerned Scientists has performed a tremendous service by producing the report Sidelining Science from Day One: How the Trump Administration Has Harmed Public Health and Safety in Its First Six Months.
California work fatalities and injuries on the rise while millions of dollars of enforcement resources are “left sitting on the table”
Dozens of safety inspector positions in California are vacant while workplace fatalities and injuries in the state are on the rise. Cal/OSHA has had an average of 34 vacant field enforcement positions a month since July 2015, which means that more than $10 million in state-authorized funding was left unused.