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National COSH Policy Platform
National COSH’s policy platform is designed to address workplace safety and health issues that have universal or widespread relevance across the COSH network. Our policy platform is comprehensive and calls for both systemic reforms in workplace safety and health, as well as hazard-specific improvements, that will benefit a diverse population of workers from low wage unorganized workers to union workers, from blue collar workers to professionals, from temporary to permanent workers, and from young to seasoned workers.
National COSH will strategically marshal its resources to focus on those policies in the platform that will have the greatest effect on improving worker safety and health and potential for success, while recognizing that there are others that are also important but to which we will invest fewer resources. Our local COSHes support our national campaigns at varying levels of commitment, while pursuing their own advocacy campaigns of local significance. For more information on National COSH and local advocacy campaigns visit our Campaigns page.
A summary of our Policy Platform appears below. For the complete Policy Platform, click here.
- Policies Affecting the Most Vulnerable Workers
Provide Equal Protections for Safety and Health on the Job for All Workers: State and Federal OSHA offices, and other government agencies, should ensure that immigrant and minority workers, contingent/temporary, and young workers - who are particularly vulnerable to serious workplace hazards, are adequately protected on the job. In addition, the U.S. Congress should pass meaningful immigration reform to bring undocumented workers out of the shadows and ensure that they enjoy the same safety and health protections as other workers.
- Policies Affecting All Workers
Responsible Contractors on Public Works Projects: Federal agencies and State and local governments should adopt policies for the awarding of contracts for public works projects to ensure that only responsible employers with effective safety and health programs are awarded contracts.
Effective State OSHA Enforcement: Federal OSHA and worker advocates should hold State OSHA programs to strict standards to ensure that their enforcement efforts are at least as effective as federal OSHA, as required by the federal OSH Act. Many of these programs have failed to live up to this promise and must be held accountable.
Serious Protections for Whistleblowers: Several Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits have found that OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection program has failed to achieve its goal. OSHA must take action to ensure that workers who speak up for the job safety and health are protected from retaliation. State legislatures should also pass strong whistleblower laws that provide additional protections for workers.
Adopt Long Overdue Protections from Silica Dust: A proposed rule on limiting worker exposure to deadly silica dust has languished for years in the standard-setting process. This standard should be adopted to ensure that no more workers die of silica-related disease.
Enhance Penalties for Violations of OSH Laws: Currently civil penalties are so low as to make them an ineffective deterrent to unsafe working conditions, and criminally negligent behavior by employers can only result in a misdemeanor prosecution. Penalties and administrative procedures must be strengthened to ensure that employers are adequately penalized for putting workers in harm’s way.
Reduce or Eliminate Widespread Use of Toxic Chemicals: Advance legislation to establish a comprehensive chemicals policy that is grounded in the fundamental principles of precaution, substituting safer alternatives and right-to-know in order to ensure the health protection of workers, their families and communities and natural ecosystems.
Provide Public Access to National Worker Fatality Data: Each death on the job is a horrible tragedy, but one that is often preventable. One of the first steps in preventing future fatalities is to understand the causes and circumstances surrounding previous ones. US DOL should compile a complete listing of workplace fatality cases, with all relevant information on a publicly available website.
Protect Against Workplace Violence: Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Workplace Violence Prevention Programs should be required in every worksite; including written protocols, training and protections to safeguard against, prepare for and reduce the risk of workplace violence.
Enhance and Protect State Workers’ Compensation Benefits: The U.S. Workers’ Compensation system must return to its original mission: providing medical care and income support to workers injured on the job. A state-by-state and national policy framework is required to insure prompt and certain payment to injured workers and their families.
- Occupation-Specific Policies
Safe Patient Handling: One major source of injury to healthcare workers is musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Safe patient handling interventions can significantly reduce overexertion injuries by replacing manual patient handling with safer methods using equipment to lift, transfer and reposition health care patients and residents.
Climate Change: Climate change will have profound implications for the occupational health and safety of many workers and the variety of potential hazards are staggering. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) must incorporate occupational health and safety issues in its assessment of potential burdens of disease and other outcomes resulting from the impacts of short and long range climate projections.