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12 Loy. J. Pub. Int. L. 1 (2010-2011)
To Assure Safe and Healthful Working Conditions: Taking Lessons from Labor Unions to Fulfill OSHA's Promises

handle is hein.journals/loyjpubil12 and id is 5 raw text is: 'TO ASSURE SAFE AND HEALTHFUL WORKING
CONDITIONS': TAKING LESSONS FROM LABOR
UNIONS TO FULFILL OSHA'S PROMISES
Brooke E. Lierman*
INTRODUCTION
The events of the past year, which included several high-profile and
deadly workplace accidents, have highlighted the fact that even in 21st
century America, employees face unsafe working conditions on a daily
basis. Although the deaths of twenty-five miners at the Upper Big Branch
Mine and of eleven workers at the BP-TransOcean oil rig in the Gulf of
Mexico dominated the news, other men and women who have not appeared
on the front page face unsafe working conditions every day. Their
workplaces may have self-evident dangers (old scaffolding, asbestos filled
rooms) or they may be unsafe only to those employees or employers in the
know (fumes in the workplace, toxic chemicals). Regardless of the type of
danger, however, employees who work in these jobs are often powerless to
correct the danger. As union membership has declined, so too has active
enforcement of our country's occupational health and safety laws. It is no
coincidence that the companies responsible for the two biggest jobsite
tragedies of the year employed non-union work forces. Although the
federal government may be able to pass legislation to bolster declining
unions, the health and safety of America's workers should not be dependent
upon membership in a labor union. Rather, the body tasked with enforcing
work safety standards must recraft its methods in light of declining union
membership, and Congress may need to intercede to ensure that the laws
that were passed to protect workers in the past are adequately protecting
workers today.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is
responsible for preventing workplace deaths and ensuring the health and
safety of American workers. The continuing health and safety dangers in
* The author would like to thank her husband, Eben Hansel, and law school professor, Professor
Wendy Wagner, for their edits. The author currently works at Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP in
Baltimore, Maryland.

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