'16 Deaths Per Day' Video Backs OSHA Reform Law

A new video has been posted in an attempt to prod members of Congress to pass H.R. 2067, the Protecting America's Workers Act, which is an OSHA reform bill sponsored by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who chairs the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee's Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. The companion bill, S. 1580, was one of the last bills sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy before his death.

The "16 Deaths Per Day" video supports passage of the bill, which would increase penalties for willful violations of OSHA regulations and would expose employers found to have committed willful violations that lead to a worker's death to criminal penalties. The bill also would strengthen protections for whistleblowers and expand OSHA's jurisdiction to cover some workers not currently under the protection of its standards.

Former OSHA Assistant Secretary Charles Jeffress speaks several times in the 5:18 video available at www.16DeathsPerDay.com, the site of the Brave New Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Culver City, Calif. More than once, Jeffress says current OSHA law is inadequate to deal with chronic violators.

Others shown in the video are relatives of workers who died on the job, including a woman whose son died after being ordered to enter a confined space to rescue a co-worker, she says.

The December 2009 issue of the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America's LifeLines newsletter includes an article about the video.

Neither bill has budged since being introduced earlier this year. Is it possible a 5:18 video can spark public outrage that results in tougher penalties when a willful violation results in a worker's death?

Posted by Jerry Laws on Dec 01, 2009