BARACK OBAMA’S PLAN TO MAKE OUR WORKPLACES HEALTHY AND SAFE
*Paid for by Obama for America
Background: The Continuing Danger in Pennsylvania and across the United States from Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
Too many Pennsylvanians have to choose between supporting their family and facing unnecessary danger at their jobs. In 2006, 240 Pennsylvanians died as a result of workplace injuries. And the annual number of workplace fatalities in Pennsylvania has remained stubbornly above the 200 mark over much of the last decade with a total loss of some 2,511 lives due to workplace injuries in Pennsylvania since 1996.
Barack Obama believes we can and must do better. As president, he will break the political logjams that froze efforts to improve the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the 1990s and end George W. Bush’s neglect of workplace health and safety. He understands the importance of assuring that Pennsylvanians come home to their families at the end of the work day healthy and safe.
BARACK OBAMA’S PLAN TO IMPROVE WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH
Improve Resources for Federal Workplace Safety Efforts: As president, Barack Obama will assure that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) — our long-neglected agencies charged with making workplaces healthy and safe — are led by people dedicated to their vital missions and have the staff and resources they need. He understands the necessity of breaking the political impasse between the White House and Congress that has starved those agencies of the resources they need to protect workers.
Barack Obama will assure that OSHA and MSHA have state-of-the-art tools and strategies needed to safeguard workers facing a wide range of hazards: from mine tunnel collapses to crane accidents, and from exposures to dangerous chemicals to severe back strains. Obama will assure that all workers — including state and local public employees in states like Pennsylvania where OSHA is administered by the federal government — are finally protected by those laws.
Promote Mine Safety: Coal mining is among the most dangerous professions in the United States. In January 2006, a mine explosion at the Sago mine trapped 13 miners for two days. Only one survived. Two weeks later, a fire at the Aracoma Alma Mine killed two. These accidents spurred important mine safety legislation, but Barack Obama believes we need to do more. As president, Obama will work to ensure that mine companies stockpile more supplies in the mine, providing better tracking devices for miners, and better monitoring of gas and smoke in mines. He will provide more training for rescue teams, ensuring that rescue teams can be deployed quickly. Obama will also call for more inspectors and tougher penalties for operators who run afoul of the law. Obama will ensure the person he appoints to head the federal agency that oversees mine safety has a
proven commitment to safeguarding the interests of miners. But we need to protect miners, not only from accidents, but also from coal dust that leads to black lung. Each year, 1,000 people die from black lung, far more than the number that die in mine accidents. Obama will strengthen dust control requirements and make sure that mine operators are complying with these requirements.
Modernize Federal Workplace Safety Regulations: Workplaces across Pennsylvania and the United States look far different today than they did when workplace safety and health laws were passed more than 35 years ago. Barack Obama will make sure that our nation’s workplace health and safety policies reflect the real problems facing working people now. An Obama administration will address dangers that Washington politicians have failed to address, such as exposures to a growing number of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. Most important, he will work to end the partisan politics surrounding issuing new health and safety standards that play into the hands of powerful interests opposed to any change in health and safety regulation.
Create New Partnerships to Address Worker Safety and Health: Obama will provide workers, unions, responsible businesses, and the government the full array of tools they need to create proactive workplace safety policies. He will encourage health and safety committees and require companies to invest in comprehensive programs. But he will also make sure that businesses that fail to live up to their obligations face real penalties and consequences for their failures. As a U.S. Senator, Barack Obama cosponsored the Protecting America’s Workers Act, legislation that would address many of the fundamental problems with our health and safety laws.
Barack Obama cares about the workers of America. Vote Barack Obama on Tuesday in Pennsylvania.