All workers have the right to a safe and healthful workplace and a fair wage. But the American workplace has changed dramatically since many of our labor laws were last updated, creating new hazards for workers, and transforming the relationship between employer and employee. New, bigger, more powerful equipment has come online. New chemicals and other toxic substances have come into routine use. New production and construction methods have been introduced.
At the same time, more and more employers rely on “contingent” workers instead of permanent employees to perform jobs at all levels. Employers are also fighting grassroots efforts to raise the minimum wage, denying sick leave and family medical leave, misclassifying workers to avoid overtime pay, and retaliating against workers who report wrongdoing.
Worker deaths or injuries resulting from conditions that violate workplace safety laws are still too common. Often, rather than treating these deadly violations of the law as subjects for criminal investigation, prosecutors simply defer to OSHA or comparable state agencies, significantly reducing the scope of possible penalties, and reducing any deterrent effect as violations are "punished" with light fines. CPR's first-of-its-kind Crimes Against Workers database catalogs state criminal cases brought by enlightened prosecutors, as well as grassroots advocacy campaigns against employers responsible for workers being killed, maimed, or seriously endangered on the job.
Through research and scholarship, CPR Member Scholars and staff offer local, state, and federal policymakers and prosecutors tools to make sure all workers have a safe workplace and a fair deal for their labor. See their work below. Use the search box to narrow the list.
More than 30,000 workers have died as a result of on-the-job injuries since 2009, many because their employers failed to follow safety procedures -- violations for which OSHA imposed fines. But a report from CPR finds that OSHA is routinely discounting those fines, greatly diminishing any deterrent value.
Letter from Katherine Tracy to leaders of the Maryland House Committee on Economic Matters in support of HB24, re requiring state contractors to develop worker safety and health plans. January 23, 2019.
Inadequately regulated chemical hazards are at their deadliest in the workplace. People exposed to toxics at work tend to encounter dangerous substances more frequently, for longer durations, and at higher levels than the public at large. Workers are at substantial risk across dozens of sectors including agriculture, domestic cleaning, hair and nail salons, home repairs, building construction, and chemical manufacturing. Read CPR's Detox for the Workplace handbook to see how workers can protect themselves.
The Center for Progressive Reform with 66 organizations and individuals on comments to OSHA recommending improvements to its administration of whistleblower protection provisions under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, May 7, 2019.
The Center for Progressive Reform joined 100+ organizations in a Workers’ Memorial Week letter to the Department of Labor calling for a federal heat stress standard to protect workers from the growing dangers of climate change and rising temperatures, April 26, 2019.