On average, more than 10 U.S. workers die every day on the job, the result of workplace accidents or exposures — more than 4,000 a year in all. Hundreds of thousands more are injured or made ill at their workplaces, many permanently disabled. Those numbers are far better than they once were, but nowhere near as low as they could and should be.
While the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is rightly considered a landmark achievement in the fight for safer workplaces, aggressive enforcement of the law is a thing of the distant past, particularly with respect to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s record of adopting and enforcing regulations to address emerging or long-unaddressed hazards.
As explained in CPR’s June 2014, Winning Safer Workplaces: A Manual for State and Local Policy Reform, workplace health and safety is still an achievable goal, but our existing system needs to be reformed to reflect the changing nature of employment and to address the changing role of government in our lives.
The Winning Safer Workplaces manual is a tool designed for state and local advocates to use to accomplish just such reforms. It highlights successful local campaigns to adopt workplace safety standards, and offers a series of innovative proposals to help state and local advocates make headway even in the face of intense opposition from big-moneyed, anti-regulatory interests.
To assist state and local advocates with achieving workplace reforms, CPR has developed a clearinghouse of resources for each of the proposals explored in our Winning Safer Workplaces and Preventing Death and Injury on the Job manuals.
- Health and Safety Committees: Involving Workers in Prevention
- Education and Training: Providing Workers a Knowledge Base for Action
- Whistleblower Protection Laws: Deputizing Workers to Identify and Report Hazards
- Workers’ Right to Refuse Dangerous Work: Empowering Workers to Demand a Safe and Healthy Workplace
- Citizen Suits: Empowering Workers to Sue Employers Over Hazards
Making Sure Crime Doesn’t Pay
- Fix it First: Closing the Loophole that Allows Employers to Avoid Fixing Health & Safety Hazards
- Expanded Civil Penalties: Making it Expensive to Endanger Workers
- Expanded Criminal Liability: Treating Egregious Workplace Deaths, Injuries, and Violations Like the Crimes They Are
- Shaming Scofflaw Employers and Industries: Using Government Data Effectively
- Preventing Death and Injury on the Job: The Criminal Justice Alternative in State Law: Appendix of Resources
- Systematic Criminal Enforcement: Ensuring that Police and Prosecutors Prioritize Workplace Health and Safety
- Robust Fatality Investigations: Ensuring Effective Responses to Workplace Deaths
- Responsible Contractor Laws: Holding Government Contractors Accountable for Worker Safety and Health
- Cross-Agency Partnerships: Working across Government to Protect Workers
- Annual State-Level Audits: Grading Agency Performance