Health and Wellness

Worker safety takes a back seat to corporate 'flexibility' under Trump

Donald Trump’s Mine Safety and Health Administration head, David Zatezalo, is a former coal company CEO whose company was cited for repeated safety violations, with one miner killed in a rock wall collapse. Under Zatezalo’s leadership, the MSHA has weakened mine inspection policies, allowing inspections to happen while workers are already on the job and potentially endangered by conditions the inspection will only later find.

This, according to the Trump-Zatezalo MSHA, “provide[s] mine operators additional flexibility in managing their safety and health programs and reduces regulatory burdens without reducing the protections afforded miners.” Flexibility for mine operators and reducing regulatory burdens, maybe, but putting people on the job before an inspection is completed is definitely reducing the protections afforded miners. And this whole situation is emblematic of the Trump administration’s approach to worker safety. From weakening testing requirements on offshore drilling rigs like the Deepwater Horizon to increasing line speeds at meat-packing plants to dropping requirements for large companies to submit injury and illness data, Trump’s workplace safety policies are all about making things cheaper and easier for employers, at whatever risk to workers.

But “common sense would tell you [that] you cannot increase line speeds at a fast, repetitive motion and not expect injuries to go up,” said Mark Lauritsen, director of meat packing and food processing for the United Food and Commercial Workers. […]

“Companies will have an easier time hiding injuries and illnesses,” said Debbie Berkowitz, a former Obama OSHA official and director of worker safety and health for the National Employment Law Project. “This is on top of the fact that OSHA’s presence in the workplace is declining.”

The Trump administration is, simply put, always looking at what it can do for wealthy corporations without caring what that will do to workers.

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