Every day, workers are forced to minimize safety in order to keep their jobs. The vast majority of American workers have no unions to defend their right to workplace safety. The U.S. Department of Labor and other federal agencies do not protect workers from being killed on the job.
The explosion in West, Texas was as big as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, yet there will be no war on this kind of terrorism. This is because the prevailing philosophy is profit before people.
American workers are more likely to be killed by their boss than a terrorist. Last year, approximately 5,000 workers were killed at work by unsafe conditions.
Kevin Harrington, New York City
Congress has been doing its best to gut OSHA for a long, long time now: fines have not risen in ages (big companies can absorb the “you willfully killed an employee” fine without blinking), and OSHA has had a shit of a time promulgating new regulations. Most OSHA regs date back to ANSI standards of the late 60s, and iirc, the last big update of chemical standards was in the mid-80s. (One of the last reg updates — hexavalent chrome, the same chemical that the Julia Roberts film was about — only happened because a union had sued for AN ETERNITY to get it. They won several times running — once to say, yes, you shall have your regulation; again to say, what, you mean you wanted it in a timely manner??; and again to say, what, when you said “timely manner” you meant timely-timely and not just whenever?? — before the courts finally told Congress to BACK THE FUCK OFF and let OSHA make their reg already.)
…do I need to tell you how much manufacturing has changed since 1969? How about the chemical industry? SO MANY NEW CHEMICALS SINCE THE 1980s.
Hell, it’s gotten so bad, that the chemists (industrial hygienists, they’re called) employed by OSHA and NIOSH formed their own professional organization (the NCGIH), which publishes a book every year of what the regulations WOULD be if they got to have their say. And employers-of-conscience use THAT book in addition to the OSHA regs. But then a bunch of industry lobbyists up and sued NCGIH, trying to force them to stop publishing that book, because the book was making them look bad and sometimes helping employees win employer-negligence lawsuits.
(this is my bitter laugh)
And mind you, this all is far, far worse when viewed from an intersectionality perspective. F’rinstance, immigrants are FAR more likely to be killed on the job than other workers: some of that roots in language or culture (not knowing they have rights to a safer workplace than they’ve got, or not believing in those rights, once told; or alternatively, not being able to communicate with coworkers/employers well enough to understand what is or is not a dangerous way to do something), some of it is being in such an economically precarious position that they can’t afford to take the risk of trusting in whistleblower protections (which are far, far from perfect), and some of it is living in dead fear of *other* branches of the federal government (ICE!) and thus being justifiably unwilling to cooperate with *any* government inspectors. (In Oregon, there is a law expressly forbidding OR-OSHA inspectors from sharing info with immigration or police, to help back the “no really, you can trust me, I won’t turn you in, even if I *wanted* to the law forbids me from doing so, just tell me, IS YOUR EMPLOYER TRING TO KILL YOU?” Some white people are as mad as hell about that law and want it gutted, as you might imagine. God forbid that undocumented workers should have any kind of protection from their employers!)
The situation is a long, long way from how it was supposed to work, back when it was all set up in 1971. And yes, union-busting is part of the reason for that.
…and y’know, I’m just going to stop talking now, because I could go on about this for a long, long time.
But in summation: you should be able to go to work and come home with as many body parts as you left with, and you should be able to come home with them all in good working order, too. You really, really fucking should.
i want to know why we’ll throw a rich black woman in prison for having a “parade of excuses” and “feeling put upon” but we can’t manage to figure out how to put multi-billionaire white men who have actively worked to destroy cities like detroit in prison.(via iinventedeverything)