In recognition of Workers’ Memorial Day, UFCW International President Marc Perrone spoke out about the need for higher workplace safety standards in an op-ed that was published in The Hill on May 1.
The op-ed made the case that workplace safety should be a right, not a privilege:
While we may debate many issues in this country and our partisan divisions may be greater than ever, we must all agree that being safe and healthy at work should be a right, not a privilege. Whether you work in a nursing home, on a construction site, in a retail store or a food processing plant, no hard-working man or woman should have to worry about being killed or injured in the workplace.
Perrone went on to express concern about the current administration’s actions to roll back workplace safety standards:
Last month, President Trump signed a bill that eliminated the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule, which required federal contractors to report and correct major safety and other labor violations. The Trump administration also plans to shrink federal funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which would only make certain occupations and workplaces even more dangerous.
In fact, OSHA is already delaying enforcement of the crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry and reversed an OSHA rule that clarified an employer’s responsibility to maintain accurate records of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. Even these specific changes will make it difficult for OSHA to compile injury and illness records that are critical to identifying what jobs are dangerous and which employers are failing to keep their workers safe.
The op-ed also points out how unsafe workplaces are bad for businesses:
While some will suggest that these are unnecessary regulations and a fiscal burden to businesses, the truth is that eliminating workplace safety measures is not only bad for workers, it’s also bad for businesses. Unsafe workplaces cost companies money.
Insurance claims increase with increasing worker injuries. Employee absenteeism rises in unsafe and unhealthy workplaces. In fact, workers took an average of eight days to recuperate from workplace illnesses and injuries in 2015. Unsafe workplaces result in higher worker turnover and low employee morale. In today’s social media driven world, the reputation and brand impact from an unsafe workplace or a needless injury or death is significant.
You can read the entire op-ed here.