For immediate release, June 27, 2017
Office: (212) 227-6440 ext. 14
NEW YORK COMMITTEE FOR OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH (NYCOSH)
SAYS U.S. SENATE MUST STAND UP FOR WORKER SAFETY
Senate to Hear from Sec’y of Labor Acosta Today
on Proposal to Cut Inspections and Training in FY 2018
New York, New York (June 27, 2017) – Charlene Obernauer, Executive Director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) said today that U.S. senators have a “unique opportunity to stand up for worker safety” regarding today’s hearing in the U.S. Senate on the proposed FY 2018 budget for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
“Workers in New York can’t afford cutbacks in safety inspections or workplace training,” said Obernauer. “The price we pay for unsafe working conditions can’t be measured in dollars and cents. We pay with our lungs, our limbs – and sometimes our lives.”
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will testify today before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
“It is outrageous that the Trump administration seeks to justify drastic cuts to the U.S. DOL and other key agencies tasked with protecting workers by claiming such measures will strengthen the U.S. economy. The most important factor for growing the economy is, of course, strong and healthy workers. Thousands of workers are educated on critical safety risks and prevention measures each year through the Susan Harwood program. Workplaces inspections are critical in reducing life threatening workplace hazards. These cuts will harm the workforce as a whole, but in particular will put vulnerable workers- immigrant, low-wage workers at increased risk of injury and death.” Said Javier A Gallardo, Workers’ Health & Safety Coordinator at Make the Road New York.
In 2015, the last year for which data is available, 236 New York workers died from workplace trauma. Every day, thirteen U.S. workers die on the job. Instead of providing resources to prevent these tragedies, the proposed Department of Labor budget for FY 2018:
- Projects 2,300 fewer inspections of U.S. workplaces by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Cuts $6 million for safety inspections from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration
- Eliminates the successful Susan Harwood training grants, which have a proven track record of helping workers in dangerous injuries avoid workplace hazards that can lead to illnesses, injuries and fatalities.
Outside the DOL budget, other key agencies tasked with protecting workers and communities face drastic cutbacks, including elimination of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board and a 40 percent cutback — $139 million — at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Across the U.S., 4,500 U.S. workers die each year from traumatic events in the workplace, such as falls from a height, drowning in trenches, getting crushed by machinery, and roadway collisions. In addition, an estimated 95,000 U.S. workers die each year from long-term occupational exposures linked to cancer, lung disease, heart disease and other fatal conditions.
About NYCOSH: The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) is a membership organization of workers, unions, community-based organizations, workers’ rights activists, and health and safety professionals. NYCOSH uses training, education, and advocacy to improve health and safety conditions in our workplaces, our communities, and our environment. Founded in 1979 on the principle that workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths are preventable, NYCOSH works to extend and defend every person’s right to a safe and healthy workplace. For more information, visit nycosh.org, follow the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NYCOSH on Twitter.