On OSHA Anniversary, Labor Calls For Updated Worker Safety Laws


While Wisconsin’s legislature reviews workplace safety rules for public workers, a longshot proposal in Congress would strengthen federal rules for private employees.

In a press conference at the State Capitol, local labor officials marked the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) by reading the names of workers killed on the job.

In 2011, 89 workers died in Wisconsin. More than 74,000 were injured.

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OSHA has 36 safety inspectors in the state. Former state AFL-CIO president David Newby says OSHA is underfunded.

“Their budget amounts to $4.17 per worker, per year. That’s how much American society values the, lives the safety and the health of American workers.”

OSHA was passed 42 years ago; since then, hazards have changed along with the methods to detect and prevent them. Jim Schultz, a member of the Wisconsin Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, says federal OSHA laws need updating:

“Such as expanding on the permissible exposure limits that workers are allowed to be exposed to when it comes to chemicals in the workplace. Many of which have not been upgraded since the ’70s and were based on very old, very bad science.”

A bill updating OSHA was introduced in Congress after a deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion. The fertilizer plant was last inspected by the agency in 1985.