Wage and Hour Division Teams with OSHA for Worker Safety Conversation at AIHce

Leaders from each organization discussed the fissuring of the workplace and what employers can do to avoid it.

SALT LAKE CITY -- Day 2 at AIHce 2015 kicked off with a conversation on the fissuring of the workplace. Jordan Barab, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, joined David Weil, PhD and Administrator for the Wage and Hour Division of the USDOL on stage in the Grand Ballroom of the Salt Palace Convention Center to discuss the topic.

The fissuring of the workplace refers to the shedding of activities by a business in order to focus on core competencies. This shedding often leads to layoffs and the hiring of temporary workers. While temporary workers offer a sound solution across a lot of different industries, they are also typically hired to do some of the most dangerous jobs available.

This gets at the core of the idea of fissuring in the workplace: when a temporary worker is injured on the job, who is ultimately responsible? In covering this topic, Barab used cell tower construction as an example. If a worker dies on top of an AT&T cell tower, it would be easy to assume AT&T is responsible. This is rarely the case however, as they typically hire a sub-contractor to handle the hiring of these workers.

By shedding the hiring process, AT&T creates a fissure with their employees. Even when this happens, Barab emphasized that you can apply pressure at the top level of an organization by collaborating and meeting with them. For example, members of OSHA were unavailable for the conversation due to international meetings in Korea with an automobile manufacturer.

Weil took this a step further in saying that companies can't have it both ways; meaning they can't oversee aspects of a business that they shed but also ignore the employment process.

In order to combat these problems, both OSHA and the DOL admit that resource problems exist. The sheer number of businesses in the country mean it is impossible to monitor them all effectively. By being able to collaborate between the different regulatory organizations and the companies themselves, these shortages can be overcome.

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