Occupational safety is the number one workplace concern and Congress should pass legislation aimed to protect the health and safety of workers, according to a new poll and study by the National Opinion Research Center and the Public Welfare Foundation.
The study [PDF] found that a safe job site trumps other important labor standards such as maternity leave, minimum wage, the right to join a union, with 85% of respondents rating workplace safety regulations as very important for workers.
The study also found that strong support exists for Congress to take action on workplace safety. Eighty-four percent of respondents felt that Congress should be active and pass legislation dealing with workplace safety and health issues. This was more support for than what existed for Congressional action on environmental legislation, stem cell research, gun control laws, and other legislative issues.
These findings demonstrate the broad public support for stronger occupational safety and health standards and safer workplaces, both of which would be accomplished by the Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety and Health Act currently making its way through Congress. This legislation would protect workers by empowering the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to go after employers who repeatedly violate worker safety standards, and to assess strict penalties like increased fines, workplace closures, and even imprisonment for employers who break the rules. The House of Representatives has scheduled a vote on this bill for when it returns from recess, and the Senate is considering similar legislation.