The unofficial end of summer, Labor Day is a holiday for celebrating the economic and social contributions of the American worker. It’s also a good time to think about protecting those workers from occupational hazards. We have many federal safety and health standards to protect workers at more than 8 million U.S. worksites, but accidents at worksites are not uncommon. For example, in an 18-month period from 2006 to 2008, a dozen workers died on construction sites in Las Vegas, Nevada, and in 2013, a tragic explosion at a fertilizer storage and distribution facility in Texas killed and injured 14 people.
Excerpted from GAO-14-274Federal and state agencies face many challenges in protecting the safety and health of the 130 million public and private sector workers across the nation. We have recommended a number of ways in which agencies can improve in this area. Our reports on worker protection:
- recommend ways to improve federal and state efforts to protect worker safety and health;
- recognize the challenges the federal government faces in developing safety and health standards;
- identify the need for better guidance on employers’ voluntary safety incentive programs;
- evaluate the process for accrediting laboratories that perform safety tests on products ranging from fire extinguishers to coffee makers; and
- identify opportunities to improve whistleblower protection for those employees who “blow the whistle” on prohibited or unlawful practices.
Excerpted from GAO-14-286Our reports provide recommendations that can inform federal and state agency efforts to better keep our nation’s workers safe from workplace injuries and fatalities.