March 17, 2010 -
Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration Dr. David Michaels on Tuesday testified before the U.S.
House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee's Subcommittee on
Workforce Protections. Michaels shared the U.S. Department of Labor's
views on the Protecting America's Workers Act, particularly the issue of
Solis' vision for the Department of Labor is 'good jobs for everyone.'
Good jobs are safe jobs. Stronger OSHA enforcement will save lives. The
administration supports both the goals of the Protecting America's
Workers Act and many specific provisions," said Michaels.
"Most employers want to do the right thing. But many others will only
comply with OSHA rules if there are strong incentives to do so. OSHA's
current penalties are often not large enough to provide adequate
incentives, and we are very low in comparison with those of other public
health agencies," said Michaels. "Clearly, OSHA can never put a price on
a worker's life. It is vital that OSHA be empowered to send a stronger
message, especially when a life is needlessly lost."
Environmental laws carry much heavier penalties than penalties under the
Occupational Safety and Health Act. For example, in 2001 a tank of
sulphuric acid exploded at a
PAWA would improve the OSH Act by raising penalties for violations of
the law, strengthening workers' voices in the workplace, expanding the
rights of victims and their families, expanding OSHA coverage to public
employees, and requiring the abatement of serious, willful and repeat
hazards during the citation contest period.
In his testimony, Michaels also noted, "Several sections would present
significant budgetary and workload challenges for OSHA and OSHA's
support agencies, including the solicitor's office and review
commission. I look forward to working with you to ensure that we address
these issues in the right way."
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for
(Also see House Bill To Protect U.S. Jobs In International Airline Alliances)
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