Workers’ Memorial Day 2015 should be observed by focusing on workplace illnesses caused by hazardous chemicals. Listen for the reasons.
Employers need to take the safety bull by the horns, especially with chemical safety. This Workers’ Memorial Day, honoring people killed or injured on the job, companies are asked to go beyond OSHA standards.
Hear Dr. David Michaels, the head of OSHA, publicly state his agency’s chemical standards are substandard. To truly honor workers, he asks all employers to set higher chemical standards.
Workers’ Memorial Day is observed annually, globally, on April 28th.
intro music and effects
Dr. David Michaels: The OSHA standards aren’t good enough.
Dan Clark: Who said that about chemicals in the workplace? He’s with OSHA. He said it to observe Workers’ Memorial Day.
Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, tackling health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites. Hey, here’s a dollar stretcher. Make an order at creativesafetysupply.com, use coupon code Big10. It does you a favor, saving 10%. It does me a favor: let’s them know I sent you.
Dr. Michaels: The OSHA standards aren’t good enough. If you just follow the OSHA standards, we can’t guarantee that workers will be safe.
Dan: That’s the head guy at OSHA, The Assistant Secretary Of Labor, Dr. David Michaels.
Dr. Michaels: That’s an unusual thing for an agency to say, their standards aren’t good enough. But it’s very true. It’s also very obvious.
Dan: Observing Workers’ Memorial Day in 2014 he was quick to admit his agency’s chemical exposure standards are woefully out of date. The big chemical companies tell him:
Dr. Michaels: Of course your standards aren’t good enough. We won’t follow those standards. We will do much better.
Dan: This year, for Workers’ Memorial Day 2015, the National Safety Council is encouraging companies to focus on workplace illnesses, especially those caused by hazardous chemicals.
Here’s a little history on Workers’ Memorial Day:
It’s observed every year on April 28th to honor people killed, injured or sickened on the job.
12 workers die on the job each day in the United States.
Millions more are injured or made sick on the job every year.
In the US, April 28th is OSHA’s birthday—the day it was established in 1971.
OSHA isn’t the only answer, though. Beyond having outdated chemical standards, they have less than 900 inspectors. This means they can inspect worksites once every 140 years.
Employers need to take the lead. Here’s why.
• For hazardous chemicals, illnesses don’t often develop right away.
• Employers should take steps to reduce exposure to chemicals. Look at safe research and industry best practices.
• Many of OSHA’s permissible exposure limits—PELs—are outdated. OSHA estimates there are as many as 650,000 hazardous products used in the US. Only about 500 chemicals have OSHA PELs.
• Employers should share info that could help OSHA update PELs. They recently asked for input on this.
• Report occupational illnesses.
• Continually improve their processes for handling chemicals.
• Look at how a workers overall health could make occupational exposures worse.
Dr. Michaels reminds us of three worker rights:
Dr. Michaels: The right to a safe and healthful workplace.
The right to receive training in the language and vocabulary that you can understand.
And the right to voice your concerns about potential hazards the workplace.
These rights belong to every worker in America.
Dan: Again, that’s Dr. David Michaels, head of OSHA.
No job is a good job unless it’s a safe job.
That’s all for this episode on Workers’ Memorial Day. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10% off your entire order at creativesafetysupply.com with coupon code Big10.
The White House statement on Workers’ Memorial Day 2015
Hard hat image courtesy of US Navy/Jesse Lora 2009; broken fingers image by Alvimann/Morguefile 2009.