Extreme Heat Legislation and an Underfunded OSHA: A Broken Federal Worker Safety Regulatory process with Jordan Barab
This week we turn our attention to the plight of and the dangers that workers routinely face as a result of profiteering being the driving force behind our economy rather than worker safety. Again, in service to growing wealth inequality, who is left behind? We begin with a review of coal mining disasters since the turn of the century and the lack of basic safeguards there. We also detail pending legislation connected to lack of worker protections for workers dealing with extreme heat working conditions: “The Asunción Valdivia Heat Stress Injury, Illness, and Fatality Prevention Act” would protect workers against occupational exposure to excessive heat… Currently OSHA has no heat protection standards…
We explore a health app created by OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is like a kind of the research branch of OSHA if you will.
Joining us is special guest Jordan Barab who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA from 2009 to 2017. Before that he worked for the House Education and Labor Committee, the Chemical Safety Board, the AFL-CIO, OSHA and AFSCME. He currently produces Confined Space, a newsletter of workplace safety and labor issues.
OSHA is the Occupational Safety Health Administration, a US federal agency that has the enormous mandate to ensure the safety and health of 158 million workers in more than 10 million workplaces in our country . OSHA funding is so small and underfunded that if it was to inspect every workplace in the country just once it would take 190 years. Our guest discusses overall worker safety in the context of the current heat wave and recent legislation being promoted to protect workers from extreme temperature working conditions. Meanwhile, every year we have 5,000 workers who die in the workplace; plus many more who die from ‘occupational illness’. Our guest takes us on a fascinating exploration of how OSHA, an agency with a huge mandate and very few resources to fulfill that mandate has come under fire due to lack of political will around workplace health and safety. As a result, OSHA does not have the budget it needs to advocate for needed change of laws. Instead, worker safety is further compromised by proposals for a 15% cut in the OSHA budget.