A Labor Day Tradition: Yearbook on US Occupational Health & Safety 2016

The fifth edition of “The Year in US Occupational Health & Safety: Fall 2015 – Summer 2016” was released today, Labor Day 2016. This annual tradition profiles the most notable events over the past 12 months in worker safety and health policies, research, and investigative reporting. I wrote this fourth edition of the yearbook with Kim Krisberg and Roger Kerson, and received exceptional editorial assistance from Liz Borkowski, MPH. We are especially excited that the report features many photos contributed by colleagues in the OHS community or used with permission from news outlets that covered worker safety topics this past year.

The yearbook is divided into four sections:

  • Significant events at the federal agencies and in Congress. This section's highlights include the new regulation issued by OSHA to protect workers who are exposed to silica dust, the criminal trial of coal baron Don Blankenship, and Congress’ passage of a new chemical safety law and reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.  We also make note of some challenges and victories for workers in America’s ‘gig’ economy.
  • Notable activities in state and local agencies. This section's highlights include new proposed regulations by Cal/OSHA, a new task force on vulnerable workers established by the Governor of New York,  and court decisions in Florida, New Mexico, and Oklahoma striking down restrictions on workers’ compensation.
  • Outstanding reporting by national, regional, and local journalists. This section's highlights include the Center for Public Integrity’s investigations on the hardship of suffering from occupational illnesses, the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal News’ feature on physician fraud in California’s workers’ compensation system, the Houston Chronicle’s reporting on the consequences for workers and communities of hazardous chemical incidents, the Detroit Free Press’ investigation of Michigan-OSHA’s soft touch against serious violators.
  • New research published by academics and organizations. This section's highlights include studies involving day labors, and the relationship between long work hours and cardiovascular diseases, as well as reports by the Center for Progressive Reform on criminal prosecution of worker safety violators, Oxfam America on poultry workers, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health on NYC’s commercial waste industry.

The 2016 Yearbook recaps many of the notable events, policy changes, and reporting, but is not exhaustive. It is a tough task deciding what to include and what to omit. It’s a good problem to have, however, and tells us that the enthusiasm for policies to protect workers from injuries and illnesses (and other labor abuses) continues to gain momentum.

Throughout the week we will write posts that will highlight some of the yearbook’s content.  We hope you will download the report and we invite you to add a comment to our posts with your own ideas about notable worker health and safety events over the past 12 months.

The yearbooks from the previous four years are available here:

4th edition: Fall 2014 - Summer 2015

3rd edition: Fall 2013 - Summer 2014

2nd edition: Fall 2012 - Summer 2013

1st edition: Fall 2011 - Summer 2012

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Another terrific publication - kudos to all the writers! Reading the 2016 edition, I was especially struck by how much great reporting is happening on OHS, at both local and national outlets. Thanks for bringing this all together.