Letter to Secretary Chao
Today Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao protesting the Administration’s recent decision to withdraw the Susan Harwood training grants to nineteen non-profit organizations. The grants were designed to protect American workers from injuries in the workplace.
“In another attack on American working families, the Bush Administration has eliminated important tools to protect workers from injury, illness, and death. The Administration is once again turning its back on progress by destroying key workforce protection programs. In rescinding the grants, the Labor Department cited ‘budgetary circumstances’ as the cause. Sadly, workplace safety will suffer to once again fund tax breaks for the wealthy.
“This action is particularly troubling in light of the repeal of ergonomics protections for workplace safety. Since the Administration opposes regulations to protect workers from ergonomic injuries, voluntary training programs become even more important,” Pelosi said.
The nineteen Susan Harwood training grants were awarded in January 2001 to develop safety and health training programs for immigrant workers, small business employers and employees, and workers in high-risk jobs such as construction. The San Francisco-based California Labor Federation, awarded a $210,000 grant to conduct a training program in basic workplace safety and health principles, was among the Susan Harwood recipients.
The training grants are named in honor of the late Susan Harwood, a former director of the Office of Risk Assessment in OSHA’s health standards directorate, who died in 1996. During her 17-year tenure with the agency, Harwood helped develop standards to protect workers exposed to blood borne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos, and lead in construction.
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