The Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce recently held a hearing investigating OSHA’s regulatory agenda and its impact on job creation. Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA issued a statement in support of OSHA and their continued efforts to create good, safe jobs.
Michaels explained that while the economy must grow, it can never do so at the expense of American workers’ health and safety.
“Despite concerns about the effect of regulation on American business, there is clear evidence that OSHA’s commonsense regulations have made working conditions in this country today far safer than 40 years ago when the agency was created, while at the same time protecting American jobs,” said Michaels. “The truth is that OSHA standards don’t kill jobs. They stop jobs from killing workers. OSHA standards don’t just prevent worker injuries and illnesses. They also drive technological innovation, making industries more competitive.”
He also stressed the focus OSHA places on compliance costs. Michaels argues that many OSHA standards can be adopted with nominal effect on the bottom line. Additionally, the benefits of such regulations extend beyond worker safety. For example, the standards intended to protect workers from cancer causing chemicals, such as vinyl chloride were shown to protect workers, while increasing productivity.
“As we approach OSHA’s 40th anniversary, the agency’s success has been well documented,” said Michaels. “An estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job the year that Congress created OSHA. That number had fallen to approximately 4,340 in 2009. At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled and now includes more than 130 million workers at more than 7.2 million worksites. Since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the rate of reported serious workplace injuries and illnesses has declined from 11 per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.9 per 100 workers in 2008.”
However, the work of OSHA is far from over. Each day 12 workers die on the job, according to Michaels, and more than 3 million workers are injured each year. OSHA must continue to work to ensure the health and safety of all American workers.
To read the Michael’s full statement click here.