Eggs vs. Work Safety, OSHA/NIOSH Heads Update ASSE Chicago Audience on Work Safety Concerns
EGGS VERSUS WORKER SAFETY, OSHA & NIOSH ADMINISTRATORS DISCUSS WORK SAFETY AT AMERICAN SOCIETY OF SAFETY ENGINEERS’ CHICAGO CONFERENCE TODAY
CHICAGO, IL (June 13, 2011) — “Recently there was a major recall of tainted eggs due to a salmonella outbreak, about 300 million,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) David Michaels, Ph.D., told 4,000 safety and health professionals at the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Chicago conference and exposition today. “What bothered me was, yes there was uproar over the tainted eggs, which was not good, but there was no discussion on the working conditions on egg farms. We need to convince Americans to care as much about workers as they do chickens.”
“ The public seems to care more about the chickens than the workers and the work environment producing chickens and eggs,” Michaels continued. “That needs to change. I mean people are calling for safer cages for chickens more so than worker conditions. It’s like when Upton Sinclair was upset when his book ‘The Jungle’ led to increased food safety instead of improved working conditions, which was his focus. Food safety is important, but again work safety falls by the wayside.” Michaels noted that Sinclair wrote it to show the working conditions for stockyard workers. The author later stated, ‘I aimed for their hearts and hit their stomachs.’
In front of thousands of occupational safety, health and environmental professionals from around the world, Michaels and the Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) John Howard, MD, Ph.D., discussed the state of worker safety today along with issues such as injury recordkeeping, research, regulations, the federal budget and its affect on OSHA and NIOSH programs with a ripple effect on SH&E.
Michaels began the egg discussion following a question asking what the best advice would be from them for occupational safety and health professionals today.
“We need to make workplace safety in this nation just as important as tainted eggs,” Michaels said.
Howard and Michaels noted that silica regulations, new healthcare worker safety standards and addressing how to contain the spread of flu are on the agenda when asked about new initiatives.
Michaels also noted that a large number of workplace injuries and illnesses go unreported referring to a study that found, “for every injury reported on an OSHA log, there were three and a half that went through the workers compensation (WC) system. Ideally, the numbers on the OSHA log and the number of injuries and illnesses reported for WC medical and leave benefits should match up.”
Michaels and Howard both congratulated ASSE on its 100th year anniversary and said they look forward to continuing to work with occupational safety, health and environmental professionals to continue to protect people, property and the environment. “We know how hard you work every day and night doing everything you possibly can to protect your co-workers. We sincerely thank you he told the crowd. You are the silent heroes of the workplace and we need your support as you need ours,” Michaels said.
Founded in 1911 and celebrating its centennial, the 100-year-old Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest safety society and has 34,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members who lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information please go to www.asse.org/newsroom.