No more: Labor leaders, government officials call for higher workplace safety standards

Labor leaders and government officials gathered in Harrisburg on Monday to commemorate workers who lost their lives at work and called on the General Assembly to approve two bills that would extend federal workplace safety to public sector workers across the Commonwealth. .

У 24 states, including Pennsylvania, the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Service does not apply to public sector workers. One government official said decades-old standards continue to leave public sector employees vulnerable.

Scott Weyant, Deputy Secretary of Compensation and Insurance, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (photo by Capital-Star Cassie Miller).

“For 50 years, the Pennsylvania public sector has not had workplace safety standards that protect our colleagues in the private sector,” Scott Wayant, deputy secretary of compensation and insurance for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, said Monday.

“The status quo is a health and safety gap for public sector teachers, maintenance workers, sewage treatment plant operators, police, firefighters, penitentiaries, health workers, health workers, office workers and many other civil servants.” said Wayant.

The two proposals currently being considered by the legislature are aimed at closing the gap in protecting workplace safety for public sector workers.

These accounts, SB 310 and HB 1976, which were accordingly introduced in 2021 by the state senate. Christine Tartaglione, Philadelphia, and State Representative Patrick Harkins, Erie, will extend OSHA federal standards to public sector workers across the Commonwealth, and set up the Pennsylvania OSHA Review Commission to conduct on-site inspections and impose fines.

“Pennsylvania workers are appearing in jobs in every industry across the Commonwealth to earn wages and support their families to avoid serious injury or death,” said David Gash, president of the Harrisburg Central Labor Council.

Mike Prize, chairman of the Dauphin County Board of Commissioners, echoed Gasha’s comments, saying: “No family should experience the humiliation and horror of losing a loved one while they are at work and earning a good day.”

Both bills, which are currently under consideration in the committees on labor and industry in their chambers, have not yet passed the vote.

State MP Tom Mehafi and President of the Harrisburg Central Labor Council David Gash in Riverfront Park in Harrisburg at a Labor Day Remembrance Day meeting on Monday, May 2, 2022 (photo by Capital-Star Cassie Miller).

State MP Tom Mehafi, R-Dauphin, who joined the leaders of the labor collectives on Monday, called on his colleagues in the legislature to postpone the bills, calling it “an easy task.”

“It’s all about what we politicians need to get together and do today,” Mehafi said to the applause of the crowd.

Gov. Tom Wolfe had previously asked state lawmakers to support the two bills, but also instructed his administration to find ways to improve worker protection at the executive branch.

In April, Wolf announced Fr. partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Indiana (IUP) to conduct a feasibility study by analyzing the costs and benefits of extending OSHA standards to public jobs.

“We hope this feasibility study will give us a roadmap to make these job protections universal for all Pennsylvania workers,” Weyant said of the study.

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