Companies throughout the United States need to do a better job of providing safe working environments for their employees … or else. That’s the message the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is sounding this week in honor of Workers Memorial Day today.
To mark the occasion, Congress will be spending the day conducting hearings on OSHA’s performance in enforcing the law. Many lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Congress think that OSHA’s enforcement of workplace standards and regulations was too lax under the Bush Administration, allowing corporations to compromise the health and safety of its workers.
Safety experts and union members will testify before the House and Senate about ways to make current OSHA legislation more effective, with primary consideration given to the idea substantially increasing fines against companies that violate OSHA rules. Such violations typically cost somewhere in the four-figure range – hardly a concern for companies netting millions or billions of dollars.
A Cintas employee named Eleazar Torres Gomez is a great example of why it’s important for OSHA to levy strict fines against companies that violate the rules. Working in conditions that many considered to be deadly at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cintas plant, Gomez was sucked into a 300-degree industrial dryer where he died a painful death.
OSHA fined Cintas $2.78 million for ignoring safety hazards at the plant – an unusual and extraordinary fine for OSHA under the Bush Administration.
OSHA created Workers Memorial Day to memorialize people such as Gomez who died on the job. Special events marking the day also draw awareness to issues of workplace safety.
Workday Minnesota writes that “while many workers’ lives have been saved through increased regulation, many still continue to die in workplace accidents or face debilitating injuries – ranging from back problems to illnesses caused by long-term exposure to hazardous substances.”
Source: Workday Minnesota