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Seven Priorities For Federal Action in 2009

Very nearly four decades ago, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which promised every worker the right to a safe and healthy job, created NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to inquire into hazards and regulate them with standards. WisCOSH and Wisconsin's working men and women, along with our allies, have fought hard to make that promise a reality – winning protections that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives and prevented millions of workplace injuries.

Nonetheless, nationwide the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths remains enormous. In 2007, more than four million workers were injured and 5,488 workers were killed due to job hazards. Another 50,000 died due to occupational diseases. In Wisconsin there were 44 known work related deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and unknown number of exposures that will eventually lead to a work related illness. These are just the incidents of which we are aware. Workers are regularly pressured not to report workplace injuries or hazards and all too often terminated for trying to do some-thing about a hazard. Under the Bush Administration rules were changed several times to lower the severity rating of many hazards with many being taken off the list entirely.

WisCOSH, the National COSH, 19 other COSH groups around the country, the Occupational Safety and Health Section of the American Public Health Association and more than 26 other community and activists groups and trade unions in support of promoting Protecting Workers on the Job : 7 Priorities for Federal Action in 2009 (PDF document) [Spanish version] (PDF document).

With billions of dollars in stimulus money being spent there are no worker protections included. There is no recommendation, or requirement, for employers to provide job safety training; for increasing enforcement of current regulations, promulgating new protections or increasing research; reducing or elimination of widespread use of toxic chemicals or for reforming Worker's Compensation programs.

There is additional information on at : The National COSH website and the Occupational Safety & Health Section of the APHA website.

American workers need and deserve stronger safety and health laws and protections. With the election of President Obama and a Congress that is on the workers’ side, there is a real opportunity to make a change in the direction of the country and to improve workers’ lives. Please consider joining our coalition. Feel free to call or e-mail WisCOSH for additional information. Or stop by our new office at 1023 S. 5th St., Milwaukee, WI 53204.


Since first starting this campaign help protect workers from dangerous working conditions there have been a number of events which have had a beneficial impact both locally and nationally. The first of these was the swearing in of President Obama. Candidate Barack Obama made it clear during his campaign that his first priority was, is and will be the American Working class. Since taking office he has continued to highlight and target areas which have a direct impact on the day to day lives of workers and thier families.

One of those areas which WisCOSH and workers around the country have applauded was the appointment of Jordan Barab to the position of Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor. Organized labor around the country have celbrated this as a giant step forward. Mr. Barab has a long history concerning worker safety and health issues and unlike other recent holders of this important position his comes from actually being a worker and fighting for workers rights. Mr. Barab comes with an in depth and first hand experience as he ran the AFSCME's health and safety program. for 16 years. In 1998 he was appointed as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for OSHA. He then consulted for the AFL-CIO Health & Safety Department. Mr. Barab was a member of the Chemical Safety Board and was involved in investigations into some of the worst workplace disasters in recent memory. He also spent his "spare time" for the widely acclaimed Confined Space. Most recently he was working for workers on the House Education and Labor Committee. For more information check out his posted 'resume'. Since then he has been appointed as Director of OSHA.

Another great move forward has been the introduction of the Protecting America's Workers Act in first the House of Representatives by Rep Lynn Woolsey and more recently in the Senate by Senator Edward Kennedy.

WisCOSH, and other coalition members, are now working to get a critical mass of support for these bills and get the legislation passed which will move workplace safety and health a giant step forward. WisCOSH urges you to contact your Congrssional representatives in both the House and Senate and tell them you want them to sign on as co-sponsors of the bill and to vote for it's passage. View list of House of Representatives co-sponsors. View list of Senate co-sponsors.

If you want to help or get involved you can e-mail WisCOSH or call our ofice at (414) 933-2338 [Milwaukee/SE WI area] or (888) 947-2674 toll-free statewide. One way you can help is for you union, community organization or business can send WisCOSH a letter on your letterhead stating your support for the Protecting Workers on the Job 2009 platform for reform and include what actions you are willing to undertake in support of getting legislation passed to increase worker safety and health protection on the job.

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