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Workers' Memorial Week 2017: Regulatory Rollbacks and Delays

In Honor of Workers’ Memorial Week, each day this week Citizen Vox will discuss the need for safe jobs and call attention to the ways the Trump administration is dismantling key worker health and safety protections.

During the end of the Obama administration, worker safety advocates had a lot of reasons to celebrate. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) made several important strides in improving safety and prevent severe injuries on the job.

Unfortunately, times have changed. President Trump and his corporate cabinet have been working with an anti-worker Congress to use an obscure law – the Congressional Review Act – to apparently roll back as many public protections as possible. These safeguards protect Americans from dangers like pollution, corporate fraud, and deadly hazards at work. While Trump and his cronies claim that regulations harm working people and small businesses, the truth of the matter is that they provide a huge amount of benefits, including helping save lives.

So far among the regulations that have been overturned, Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have undone two rules which would have made jobs safer across the country. The first rule is the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule which required contractors bidding on federal projects to disclose all labor law violations – including workplace safety violations – for the past three years. In reviewing this information, government agencies could better determine whether or not the companies merited taxpayer dollars.

The second rule, known as OSHA’s “Volks” rule, simply clarified employers’ duties to maintain accurate records of employee injuries for five years. These records help OSHA target its enforcement efforts to focus on the most critical hazards affecting workers. Repealing these commonsense protections is an inexcusable attack on workers.

The Trump administration has also announced it will delay implementing rules protecting workers from exposure to silica and beryllium on the job. These two rules were designed to prevent working people from contracting and potentially dying from lung cancer and other deadly chronic illnesses.

Enough is enough. It’s time to make calls, write letters, and demand answers from the politicians supporting these attacks on our workplaces.

Emily Gardner is the worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. 

Keep up with Public Citizen’s work on these issues by following @SafeWorkers on Twitter.