by Charles Davis
It costs about $10 million a year — less than the price of securing Trump Tower for six months — and it’s “one of the most effective ways" to reach the most vulnerable workers, in the words of a former Labor Department official. The aim is to teach those working in construction or on fast-paced assembly lines to identify potentially fatal conditions in the workplace, and how to hold employers accountable for these conditions.
But Republicans have been looking to slash the program for a couple years now, and with Donald Trump they now have a president who shares their agenda. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), now led by a Trump appointee at the Labor Department, alludes to this change in leadership and priorities in an unusual note it now pins on the top of its website:
“As of January 20, 2017, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.”
That Labor Department praise for the Susan Harwood Grant Program, then? Outdated. The new policy is to scrap it altogether. And that, critics say, will mean more dead workers.
The proposed cuts to the Labor Department are extensive. The Trump administration's proposal would reduce spending by 21 percent, which could mean far fewer inspectors and far less enforcement — and slashing that $10.5 million grant will mean fewer workers able to spot and report violations themselves.
Fernando Garcia is an organizer with the Northwest Arkansas Workers Justice Center, which has used money from the grant program to train workers in the local poultry industry. He told ATTN: the workers that come in for the training have reported “very unsafe working conditions,” talking about the “how they have to process over 40 chickens a minute, working with sharp objects, close together.”
Read full article from ATTN.