For immediate release March 15, 2017
CONTACT: Mónica Novoa, NYCOSH
Office: (212) 227-6440 ext. 14
The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH)
Joins National Call for Workplace Safety Protections to
Save Thousands of Lives, Billions of Dollars
Local delegations to meet with elected officials in New York; Advocates also call for action in local communities and workplaces
New York, New York – The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) has joined a nationwide campaign to advance an action agenda for workplace safety. “Protecting Workers’ Lives and Limbs,” convened by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, has been endorsed by 92 groups across the country, including NYCOSH. The comprehensive platform for strong worker safety protections, advocates say, can save workers’ lives and reduce costs to employers in New York. NYCOSH will schedule visits to present the platform to members of New York’s Congressional delegation in the coming weeks.
“Communicating now to elected officials is urgent, given already-implemented federal cuts to workplace health and safety,” said NYCOSH Executive Director Charlene Obernauer. “Recent Congressional actions have put workers at risk by taking steps to eliminate sanctions against federal contractors who violate safety laws and reverse longstanding recordkeeping rules.”
In addition, the safety and health of the American workforce is being attacked at multiple angles: from the proposed stripping of the Affordable Care Act, to deregulation of protective rules, to the threat of workplace immigration raids. At a time when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has just 66 inspectors in its New York State staff to investigate worksite safety across all industries, President Trump has frozen hiring at the federal level with the only exception being 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and 5,000 new Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) agents.
“NYCOSH is concerned about the safety and health of all workers, especially immigrant workers and low wage workers who labor under the most exploitative and hazardous conditions,” said Obernauer. “For safety and health enforcement to be effective, all workers must feel comfortable reporting unsafe working conditions and labor violations regardless of their immigration status, because not doing so endangers the safety of the individual, the workforce, and the public as a whole.”
More than a dozen visits to Congressional offices will take place in nine states in the weeks leading up to Workers Memorial Day, a worldwide remembrance to honor workers who have died on the job. NYCOSH will hold an event with the New York City Central Labor Council to commemorate the day and highlight an increase in construction fatalities in New York City over the past five years.
The 92 organizations endorsing “Protecting Workers’ Lives and Limbs” represent workers, unions, environmentalists and civic groups. Key elements of the platform include: ensuring health and safety protections for all workers, reducing and working to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals, ensuring injured workers access to quality medical care, accurate counting of all occupational injuries and illnesses, and measures to adapt to–and reduce–further climate change.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS), 236 workers died on the job from occupational fatalities in New York in 2015. Nationwide, the death toll from occupational fatalities is more than 4,500 workers every year, and an estimated 95,000 U.S. workers die from long-term occupational illnesses. Millions more are injured after exposure to preventable safety hazards. The cost to U.S. employers for workers’ compensation alone was $91.8 billion in 2014, representing a fraction of the total cost of workplace deaths injuries and illnesses.
In addition to meeting with members of Congress, health and safety activists plan to push for better safety practices in U.S. workplaces and enhanced protections in state and municipal law.
“NYCOSH and our member unions, organizations and health and safety advocates in New York, are gearing up to fight for safe and healthy jobs. From preserving hard-won safety and health rules and the Affordable Care Act, to ensuring responsive enforcement of the laws and rules that protect the lives of millions of workers, we need our members of Congress to realize what’s at stake and fight with us,” said Obernauer. “Our lives depend on it.”
“Protecting Workers’ Lives and Limbs” is available on the National COSH website here.
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 nycoshstaging.wpengine.com, follow the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NYCOSH on Twitter.
ABOUT NATIONAL COSH: National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, visit coshnetwork.org, follow National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.