Workers Lose Life, Businesses Reap Prophits

It’s another day.
Just like any other day.
A worker dies on the job every 14 minutes of the day. All day.
Another family loses an income. A father or mother. A son or daughter. A neighbor. A friend.
Then there are the workers exposed to hazardous materials on the job and die slowly over the course of years and decades.

It’s February 14th. Valentines Day. For most folks it’s a day to celebrate love, friendship and togetherness. For many people it’s an anniversary. A time to spend some romantic or quiet time together.

For workers it’s an anniversary too. But it’s not a happy one. It’s not one that anyone will ‘celebrate’ or enjoy. Today marks 2 years that the proposed standard has been stuck in the depths of OMB waiting for the chance to be published so that public comment can be taken. Once it goes to OMB a proposed standard has 90 days for review and should then be published so that the general public can read it and weigh in on it. It’s allowed to extend the review period by 45 days. It’s been 2 years! 730 days.

Two more years that workers have been exposed to silica in the workplace making it much more likely workers will contract, and eventually die, from one or more of the many illnesses related to silica exposure. Two more years of talking heads telling that regulation is bad and costs jobs. Two more years where workers and their families wondering what good the jobs are when they kill the worker. Slowly, over the course of many years.

But don’t worry too much. In the 2 years that the silica rule has been sitting at the OIRA there have been plenty of meetings about it and lots of discussion. Business has met with Whitehouse many times to discuss the proposal and it’s economic impact. Closed door meetings. Public not welcome. Business has had two years to apply pressure on the Whitehouse [which chose not to make worker concerns or desires a leading plank in it’s reelection campaign] to weaken, delay or kill the proposal.

While corporate lobbyists have had their say in the matter no one else has been allowed to. Won’t you take 5 or 10 minutes of your day to make a couple phone calls and urge the process along. Call your Congressmen/women. Call your President. Call Now!

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  • Congress [Toll Free]: (888) 245-3381
    1. Press 1 to speak to your Representative
      • Enter Zip Code and you’ll be transferred to your Representative
    2. Press 2 to speak to your Senator
      • Enter Zip Code and you’ll be transferred to your Senator
  • Whitehouse: 1 (202) 456-1414 or if you’d prefer to write it down you can visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP/html/contact_the_whitehouse.html.

Worker and Consumer Health and Safety to be at Increased Risk

The USDA continues to push forward with it’s proposal to “modernize poultry slaughter“. From their own headline this proposal is more about helping increase business profits with some marginal “gains” for taxpayers. Their headline blares out “$90 million over 3 years” as the benefit to taxpayers while citing “$256 million annually” for business. If my math is right that means for every 12 cents in taxpayer money saved business makes $1.00. WisCOSH is not against saving tax money. But not at the expense of the American public’s and workforce’s health and safety. Because of the public and workforce outcry the USDA had extended the “comment period”.

This proposal is worrisome on at least several levels:

  1. it reduces the number of inspectors by hundreds
  2. it allows greatly increasing the production linespeed [up to 175 bpm per line] for workers
  3. would leave the task of spotting [and presumably discarding] diseased and/or defective birds to the poultry companies
  4. There is no requirement for plant operators to train workers taking over job duties previously performed by Federal inspectors

The proposal makes many references to the amount of money per pound that plants will save upon going to the new process but few to the increased ability to protect the food supply. Or the consumer. Or the workers.There is a large, and growing, contingent of groups opposing this proposal. WisCOSH encourages you to contact your Senators and representative in Congress. And the USDA. And the President. Today. The health and safety of thousands of poultry line workers is depending on it. And so does that sandwich or dinner you were thinking of having.

Call Now

  • Congress [Toll Free]: (888) 245-3381
    1. Press 1 to speak to your Representative
      • Enter Zip Code and you’ll be transferred to your Representative
    2. Press 2 to speak to your Senator
      • Enter Zip Code and you’ll be transferred to your Senator
  • Whitehouse: 1 (202) 456-1414
  • Tom Vilsack [Secretary of USDA]: (202) 720-3631
  • It’s That Time Of Year Again

    Every year at this time [Feb. 1] OSHA requires employers to post the OSHA Form 300-A. It must remain posted until April 30. This is printed on the forms. The Standard that applies is 29 CFR 1904.32. It reads [in part]:

    1904.32(a): Basic requirement. At the end of each calendar year, you must:
    1904.32(a)(1): Review the OSHA 300 Log to verify that the entries are complete and accurate, and correct any deficiencies identified;
    1904.32.(a)(2): Create an annual summary of injuries and illnesses recorded on the OSHA 300 Log;
    1904.32(a)(3): Certify the summary; and
    1904.32(a)(4): Post the annual summary.

    If you have the latest hard copy of the OSHA Standards [29 CFR 1900 – 1910; Revised 2011-07-01] it is on page 58. As with most regulations there have been a couple Interpretations of what the Standard means. You can find them both here.

    If they are not posted in your workplace find out why as soon as possible. It is a violation of the OSH Act of 1970 to not post them, leave them incomplete, inaccurate or to falsify the information on the Summary. It is also important that they are posted where they are accessible to workers to review.

    It is also the time of year WisCOSH recommends that workers, or their representative(s), ask for their copy of the OSHA 300 Logs. WisCOSH recommends this so that it is easier to remember to do it each year. If you have never requested them before you should ask for all of them. If you have previously requested copy(s) of the OSHA 300 Log(s) then you should ask for 2012 and any updates since last year.  Your employer must provide these to you. Free of charge. If you ask for more than one copy your employer can charge you for any additional copies at whatever cost they choose. So make your own copies!

    If you are an employer, a worker or a worker representative and you want to know more about OSHA’s Recordkeeping Requirements you should join WisCOSH for it’s “Understanding OSHA’s Recordkeeping Requirements” class. WisCOSH can help you set up or join a class. This class is FREE!! That’s right, it’s one of the many available under our DOL/OSHA Susan Harwood Institutional Capacity Building Grant.

    Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA‘s role is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.