Health and Safety at Work

Health and Safety at Work

We help save lives in the workplace through advocacy to hold employers accountable for safe working conditions and providing workers with essential safety training.

In 2007, nearly 6,000 working people died on the job; in 2016, that number was 4,836, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the New York Times reported in December 2016, the number has been on the decline over the years.

Working people in low-wage industries are more likely to die on the job, in particular due to what OSHA calls the “fatal four” causes of on-the-job deaths: falls, being struck by an object, electrocution, and being caught-in/between. Read about one example in an August 2016 cover story by Boston Business Journal: “Profiles in Pain,” featuring IWJ affiliate MassCOSH.

We collect stories from working people to learn the scope of health and safety violations in their communities, conduct train-the-trainer sessions for other workers back home, host public forums on health and safety, and conduct legislative visits to urge the passage of laws that will protect all working people.

Poultry Processing Plants

IWJ affiliates like Northwest Arkansas Workers' Justice Center, Western North Carolina Workers' Center, and Greater Minnesota Worker Center have been organizing a worker-led campaign to reform poultry processing, one of the most notorious industries for abusing working people. In partnership with Oxfam America, these worker centers have exposed the horrific working conditions inside the processing plants. From an epidemic of arthritis to workers being denied bathroom breaks in order to meet always-rising quotas, working people in poultry plants, many of whom are undocumented, have bravely stepped forward to lead the organizing efforts to bring justice and dignity to this infamous industry.

This hard work has been paying off. Tyson, one of the largest poultry producers in the nation, has recently agreed to come to the table to negotiate better health and safety standards at their plants. It's a small step, but a step forward indeed.

OSHA Trainings

Since 1978, more than 2.1 million working people have been trained to identify and report unsafe working conditions through the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, with a particular focus on low-wage and dangerous industries. For nearly a decade, IWJ has trained more than 10,000 working people under the auspices of the Harwood grant. But if budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration are enacted by Congress, funding for the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program could be cut entirely.

IWJ is part of a broad coalition pushing back on the Trump budget cuts and demanding a Faithful Budget from Congress.   

Paid Sick Leave

One in three working people must choose between staying home sick and earning their salary. We advocate for legislation that requires states, counties, and cities to mandate paid sick leave for their employees. But thanks to IWJ affiliates such as Washington, D.C. Jobs with Justice and others, cities like Washington, D.C. have been passing laws that mandate this benefit for a growing number of working people.