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Workplace Fatalities: A Family’s Perspective

A couple of days ago, family members of people who had been killed on the job attended a hearing of the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The hearing had been called to consider delays in OSHA’s standard-setting process and the impact on worker safety, and the family members were in attendance to make sure that the Senators knew that what was before them was more than just numbers on a page, that the numbers represent people and the impact of delayed OSHA standards must take into consideration the human cost that cannot be captured by the bottom line.

The family members and workers who came to DC to participate in the Senate HELP hearing also met with adminsitration officials at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Labor.

At OMB they met with Cass Sunstein and several other OMB and White House staffers.

The purpose of the OMB meeting was so that government officials, like the Senators, could hear first hand the devastating impact that the failure to protect workers has on workers and their families. OMB hears from industry groups all the time about the burdens of regulations and we thought it was important that they hear about how important these protections are.

The meeting was for the families and workers to speak. At the meeting family members and workers told their stories and urged OMB to move forward on needed rules.   The stories were powerful and moving. We reminded OMB that the delays in rules have real impacts on workers.   We told them that we were frustrated by the delays in key safety and health rules and urged them to do their job and move forward on the silica rules and other rules without delay.

Behind every statistic is a story. The Senators heard a few of them that day and so did the OMB and White House staffers. We’ve printed them here so everybody can know exactly what it means to lose someone to a workplace tragedy that probably could have been prevented if a rule that had been bottled up by bureaucratic delaying tactics had actually been put in place.