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National COSH Honors Family of Fallen Worker; Calls on Expected Sec’y of Labor Nominee to Outline Plans for Improved Worker Safety

Thursday, December 8, 2016
Press Contacts: 

Roger Kerson, roger@nationalcosh.org, 734.645.0535

BALTIMORE –At a meeting with hundreds of health and safety activists just outside Baltimore, Maryland, The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) last night honored the family of Roendy Granillo, a construction worker who died from heat exhaustion during a heat wave in Dallas in July, 2015.

Today, National COSH called on President-elect Trump’s expected nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, to address critical job safety issues as his nomination is reviewed by the U.S. Senate.

National COSH presented the Family Activist award to Roendy’s sister Jasmine and his father Gustavo during the National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (#COSHCON16). Following Roendy’s death, his family led a campaign to win a new ordinance guaranteeing the right to rest breaks for construction workers. The new law passed the Dallas City Council in December 2015, less than six months after Roendy died on the job.

“My son is in heaven now,” Gustavo told attendees at #COSHCON16. “I’m sure he is happy to know other workers will not have to suffer the same way he did.”

More than 250 family members, union safety representatives, members of COSH groups and workers’ centers and occupational safety and health professionals gathered at #COSHCON16 over the past three days to discuss the need for better safety protections for U.S. workers. Each year, more than 4,500 U.S. workers die at work due to traumatic events, and up to 100,000 more lose their lives from occupational diseases caused by long-term workplace exposures.

“President-elect Trump has identified protecting U.S. jobs as one of his top priorities,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH. “We believe safety on the job is also crucial, so that every worker can go home safely at the end of his or her shift. If Andrew Puzder is nominated as secretary of labor, it’s important that Americans hear about his plans to reduce workplace illnesses, injuries and fatalities.”

Puzder is CEO of CKE Restaurants, a major fast-food employer. In March 2015, National COSH – in partnership with the Fight for $15 campaign –conducted a survey of fast food workers which revealed that 4 out of 5 fast food workers had suffered burns on the job during the previous 12 months. More than half of fast food employees suffered multiple burns.

“If Mr. Puzder is nominated as secretary of labor, we’re hopeful he can tell us what he’s learned about workplace safety during his tenure in the fast food industry,” said National COSH co-director Jessica Martinez, who currently serves on the national advisory committee for U.S. OSHA.

During this week’s three-day conference, activists worked on developing a long-term platform for workplace safety. Top priorities include enforcement of existing regulations, new protections to prevent known hazards, and additional research on causes of workplace injuries, illness and fatalities.

“We’ve heard a tremendous range of ideas this week from people who are fighting every day to improve conditions in their workplaces,” said Martinez. “We’re eager to share this information with the new secretary of labor and other nominees for federal office with responsibility for safety on the job. We’re also inspired by the courage of the Granillo family to take action in states, cities and local communities.”

In addition to honoring the Granillo family last night, National COSH also recognized:

  • Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health: Lifetime Achievement Award.

  • Lee Clarke, Special Assistant to the President of Local 1549, District Council 37, AFSCME: Tony Mazzocchi Award, named for the legendary health and safety activist who helped pass the original OSH Act.

  • Randy Rodriguez, Occupational Safety and Health Committee Chair, CWA Local 6222, Houston Texas: Health and Safety Trainer Award.

  • Nicole Marquez and Jora Trang, Worksafe: Social Justice Award.

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National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit NationalCOSH.org. Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.