Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Union, Hispanic Caucus Demand OSHA Issue PPE Rule

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Union, Hispanic Caucus Demand OSHA Issue PPE Rule

Article excerpt

A coalition of labor unions and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are trying to revive an OSHA standard that has tumbled into rulemaking limbo.

Low-wage, predominantly Hispanic immigrant workers in meatpacking and poultry plants suffer some of the highest injury rates in the nation. Organized labor contends one reason for the high rates is that workers are forced to pay for their own safety gear, such as mesh gloves and boots. The result: workers wear their personal protective equipment (PPE) beyond its useful life, putting themselves at risk of serious injury.

"Many workers in these industries rely on personal protective equipment as virtually their only measure of protection," asserted Jackie Nowell, the UFCW's director of occupational safety and health.

In April, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the Hispanic Caucus, and eight other labor groups filed a petition with the Secretary of Labor to demand action within 60 days on a rule requiring employers to pay for PPE.

For example, Nowell pointed out that to prevent knife cuts workers in the poultry and meat industries wear metal mesh gloves that can cost up to $65 - a costly item for workers receiving minimum wage. …

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