04.29.08

ENZI URGES HELP COMMITTEE TO EXPLORE ALL OPTIONS, CONSIDER PLANS ALREADY WORKING, TO ENHANCE WORKPLACE SAFETY, REDUCE FATALITIES

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP Committee), todayurged Members of the Committee to “think outside the box” to establish effective,innovative strategies to enhance workplace safety and prevent on-the-job injuries andfatalities. “No penalty can make up for the loss of a loved one,” Enzi said at today’s HELPCommittee hearing, titled “When a Worker is Killed: Do OSHA Penalties EnhanceWorkplace Safety?” “Instead of talking just about punishments after injuries or fatalitiesoccur, I wish we were holding a hearing on preventing injuries from occurring in the firstplace. More can be done and needs to be done so that no family has to deal with the lossof a loved one who has died on the job.” Enzi said he plans to build on the provisions of the “Safety Advancement forEmployees (SAFE) Act,” which he introduced during the last Congress. The SAFE Actwould provide incentives to improve workplace safety. It included provisions to help thevast majority of employers working in good faith to achieve compliance with safety laws,while allowing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to targetmore effectively the few bad actors who willfully place their employees at risk.Enzi noted several workplace safety programs that have been proven to beeffective, including the Voluntary Protection Programs, workplace drug-testing, andWorkplace Compensation Insurance strategies, which vary from state to state.“These programs have been able to make workplaces safer and even savemoney,” Enzi said. “Let’s take a look at the best practices out there and determine howthese programs can be translated to the federal level. I have worked throughout mycareer on legislation to help businesses, especially small business, comply withworkplace safety regulations, and to reward employers who go above and beyond tocreate safe work environments. I will continue working toward these goals. We need tothink outside the box to develop new strategies to enhance workplace safety – no optionshould be taken off the table.” Enzi said that statistics show that workplace fatalities are decreasing. In 2006 thefatal work injury rate was 3.9 per 100,000 workers, the lowest level since the federalgovernment began collecting this data in 1992. Young workers and Hispanic employeeshave seen a significant decrease in fatality rates. However, Enzi said that more workneeds to be done. “Although the rates are improving overall, the presence of two witnesses todaywho have lost loved ones reminds us that every loss is one too many. By lookingseriously at the whole issue – and making no subject off limits – we can pay them thebest tribute of real progress in reducing workplace fatalities.”

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