POGO Joins in Support of Worker Health and Safety Advisory Boards

The Honorable R. Alexander Acosta
U.S. Secretary of Labor
Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Secretary Acosta,

As organizations committed to worker safety, good government, whistleblower protections, strong public health standards, and science-based decision-making, we are deeply concerned with recent reports that the Department of Labor (DOL) is stalling, disbanding, and allowing the lapse of several critical federal advisory committees at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).[1] This is yet another example of an alarming pattern of ignoring scientific and expert advice by this Administration.[2]

At your department, these committees are critical because, among other things, they make recommendations that ensure strong science-based workplace protections for construction workers, help sick nuclear plant facility workers get health benefits, and assist in guiding the implementation of science-based protections for workers from exposure to harmful chemicals like beryllium. In addition, some of these committees help answer emerging questions that guide better evidence-based policies to safeguard American workers and provide guidance to strengthen compliance with the 22 whistleblower statutes administered by OSHA. These advisory panels are composed of experts from labor unions, industry, and the public health community whose key voices in policymaking should be significantly valued by the department and OSHA.

The undersigned organizations are calling for you to:

  • Issue a call for nominees to fill vacant spots on the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH)
  • Recharter and issue a call for nominees to fill vacant spots on the Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee (WPAC)
  • Issue a call for nominees to fill vacant spots on the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH)
  • Issue a call for nominees to fill vacant spots on the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH)
  • With agency authority, recharter the Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety & Health (FACOSH) and issue a call for nominees.
  • Promptly complete the process of selecting members to serve on the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health, with balanced representation from the scientific, medical, and claimant communities.[3]

This week is Worker Memorial Week, a solemn week to remember those who have lost their lives to workplace hazards and to recommit ourselves to protecting our critical workforce. As Secretary of Labor, you can help honor the lives of those who have suffered from unsafe work environments by reestablishing the importance of and reactivating these critical worker safety advisory boards. It is critical that these advisory boards be given the opportunity to meet and make recommendations as well as help implement science-based safeguards so that everyone can benefit from a safer workplace.

Sincerely,

A Better Balance

Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups

AFL-CIO

AFSCME

Atomic Worker Advocacy BHSC Member

BlueGreen Alliance

Center for Progressive Reform

Child Labor Coalition

Coalition Against Contamination Kansas City, Mo.

Communications Workers of America

CUNY Graduate School of Public Health

Empire State Consumer Project, Inc.

Government Accountability Project

Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy

Interfaith Worker Justice

IBEW 1253

International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC)

Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health

Maine AFL-CIO

Maine Labor Group on Health

Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council

The Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights

National Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health

National Consumers League

National Employment Law Project

National LGBTQ Task Force

National Nurses United

New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health

Oxfam America

Project On Government Oversight

Public Citizen

Restaurant Opportunities Center of Chicago

SafeWork Washington

Sciencecorps

Southern Illinois Nuclear Energy Workers (SINEW)

UA Local 716

Union of Concerned Scientists

United Steelworkers

University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health

Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO

WisCOSH, Inc.

Worksafe

Cc: The Honorable Scott Dahl, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General



[1] Moss, R. 2018. Trump’s Labor Department Eviscerates Workplace Safety Panels. ProPublica, March 29. Accessed April 16, 2018; Moss, R. 2018. Injured Nuclear Workers Finally Had Support, The Trump Administration Has Mothballed It. ProPublica, March 9. Accessed April 16, 2018.

[2] Reed, G., Shulman, S., Hansel, P., and Goldman, G. 2018. Abandoning Science Advice: One Year In, the Trump Administration is Sidelining Science Advisory Committees. Cambridge, MA: Union of Concerned Scientists. Accessed April 16, 2018.

[3] Murray, P. and M. Cantwell. 2018. Letter to Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, December 13.

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