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Excerpt from The Occupational Safety and Health Act: Making the Case for Reform: Hearing of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, First Session on S. 575
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:55 a.m., in room SD-430, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senator Edward M. Kennedy (chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Senators Kennedy, Metzenbaum, Bingaman, Kasse-baum, and Durenberger.
Opening Statement of Senator Metzenbaum
Senator Metzenbaum. The committee hearing will come to order. The chairman is on his way, but in the interest of time and knowing we have so many witnesses, the chair will make his opening statement, which will by unanimous consent be included in the record after the statement of the Senator from Kansas.
This morning, the committee continues hearings on the reform of our Federal safety and health law. I would like to take a moment to stress the urgency of this issue.
Although we have made some progress since 1970, injury rates remain appallingly high. One hundred thousand Americans die each year from on-the-job safety accidents and occupational disease, and another 1.8 million suffer disabling injuries.
These are people like Virginia Durand, both of whose hands were amputated by a stamping press that did not have a safety guard; like Bert Arce, who was killed with 22 others in a massive chemical explosion triggered by untrained contract workers; like Linus Kreiner, who was buried alive when an unshored trench collapsed on top of him; like John Paumier, who was crushed to death by a foundry elevator that was accidentally activated when he was working in the shaft.
Each of these incidents represents a terrible tragedy for workers and their families. But the real tragedy is that most of these injuries and illnesses are preventable.
But there are major problems with our Federal law. Thousands of American workers have been killed or injured unnecessarily because of standard-setting delays that, unbelievably, have lasted up to 17 years. Seven million public sector employees have no Federal or State OSHA protection at all.
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