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Harkin Calls for Workplace Safety Improvements on Workers Memorial Day


This news story was published on April 29, 2011.
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WASHINGTON ñ Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the following statement on Workers Memorial Day, honoring workers who have been killed or injured on the job.|WASHINGTON ñ Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the following statement on Workers Memorial Day, honoring workers who have been killed or injured on the job:

“Prior to the creation of OSHA in the 1970s, more than 14,000 Americans died on the job each year because of unsafe working conditions. 14,000 families mourned the loss of a loved one each year. In 2009, in a workforce twice as large as in 1970, 4,340 workers died. It’s clear that OSHA has dramatically decreased the number of on-the-job deaths and injuries. It’s an important record of progress, but we must do better.

“To accomplish this, it’s clear that our safety laws need to be updated. We need to strengthen whistleblower protection laws and penalties for companies that cut corners on workplace safety, and give OSHA and other regulators the power to enforce these laws.

“While some special interests and their lobbyists argue that protections for workers are bad for business, nothing could be further from the truth. Workplace safety laws are not job-killers; they are life-savers. They prevent catastrophic accidents, reduce workers’ compensation costs and ensure that employers are responsible for their actions, instead of dumping the cost of their mistakes on workers and their families. Plus they can potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars in health care costs and disability payments for those who become ill or injured on the job. Improving our workplace safety laws is good business and good for our economy ñ and most importantly, it’s the right thing to do to honor the lives and work of the 4,340 hardwoking people we lost this year.’”|

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