Posts Tagged ‘workplace health’

An editorial in yesterday’s New York Times calls on Congress to take action on pending mine and workplace safety legislation before another tragedy like the Upper Big Branch mine disaster or the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurs.

The House and Senate are each considering similar versions of the “Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety and Health Act,” legislation that would promote safer workplaces by protecting whistleblowers who report unsafe conditions, increasing penalties for mine and workplace operators who endanger the lives of their workers, and giving the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) more authority to force employers to quickly abate hazardous conditions.

Earlier this summer, the House voted its bill out of committee and it currently awaits a floor vote. As usual, the Senate is moving at a slower pace. Public Citizen has called on Congress to take action to reduce the 5,000 worker fatalities that happen each year by passing this important legislation.

For more information on this legislation, check out our fact sheet, letter to Congress, and backgrounder (all are in PDF format). Or view the text of the House and Senate bills.

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Today, Congress took an important step to improve workplace safety. The House Committee on Education and Labor passed the Robert C. Byrd (named after the late Senator from West Virginia) Miner Safety and Health Act. The bill now advances to the House floor where it will hopefully come up for a vote soon. This is an important piece of legislation. David Arkush, director of our Congress Watch division, explained its potential effects in a statement released today:

The legislation addresses two key areas in particular: (more…)

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The silver lining of the mine explosion in West Virginia that has left at least 25 people dead and four missing is the added attention to mine safety—and workplace safety as a whole.

The Huffington Post today featured a story about all of the workplace safety accidents that aren’t widely publicized.

“Indeed, 16 American workers die every single day, on average, at the workplace, and the federal agencies tasked with making sure that doesn’t happen need more resources and more tools to combat such tragedies,” wrote Huffington Post’s David Dayen.

Want to hear about more about them? Public Citizen now tracks developments in workplace health and safety, from accidents to policy changes. Sign up now for daily e-mailed updates.

Unfortunately, mine safety is not a new issue. Just last year, Public Citizen highlighted the huge backlog of unheard mine safety cases (13,000 a year ago, 18,000 now), and called on Congress to allocate more money to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, the government agency tasked with ruling on mine safety violations, to make more judicial hires. Many of these unheard cases are appeals–a tactic companies use to avoid paying fines for safety violations.

Perhaps if the agency had received the proper funding, Massey Energy, the company that owns the West Virginia mine, would not have gotten away with its dozens of violations. In fact, the company was slapped with two citations the very day of Monday’s explosion.

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