Work With Us to Protect Workers

by Dr. David Michaels on May 16, 2012 · 1 comment

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In my time at the Department of Labor, I’ve been impressed by the way our mission to protect workers has been energized and accelerated when we have opened up our process to the innovative ideas of the American public. We’ve already used the government’s public challenge platform – http://www.challenge.gov/ – to help us develop apps through the informACTION challenge and gather photographs that tell the story of worker safety and health. These collaborations were a great way for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to team up with some of the most visionary and passionate minds in the country on solutions that will ultimately save workers’ lives.

That’s why I’m grateful to be involved in the White House Office of Science and Technology announcement of Safety.Data.gov. This new website was launched today with the Department of Transportation as part of Transportation Safety Week.  Safety.Data.Gov provides citizens, industry representatives, advocates, researchers and entrepreneurs with tools to create innovative solutions that will enhance public safety in communities around the country. A series of other initiatives are also being released, spurring the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people to help better inform and protect our citizens.  

As part of this launch, Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris this morning announced a new app challenge meant to provide workers, advocates and employers with a vital tool for safety. The Worker Safety and Health Challenge asks developers to utilize government data to create applications for several platforms that address one or both of the following categories: tools that demonstrate the importance of knowing about workplace safety and health and/or tools that help young people understand their rights in the workplace. You can get all the details at http://workersafetyhealth.challenge.gov/.

The grand prize “Safety in the Workplace Innovator Award” will grant $15,000 and a meet and greet with Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis to the developer of the app that best meets both of these categories. A “Safety and Health Data Award” and a “Workers Rights Award” of $6,000 each will be given for both individual categories, and a “People’s Choice Award” of $3,000 will go to  the developer of the app that has the most public votes on the site. Winners will be selected by a distinguished panel of judges, including Secretary Solis, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and a high-profile group of tech and safety experts (I’ll be on the panel, too).

At OSHA, we are always looking for better and more efficient ways to ensure all workers know about their lawful right to a safe and healthful workplace. The increasing use of technology by the federal government to open this process to the public’s talents and the indelible civic spirit across the country is one terrific way for us to find those solutions. I’m eager to see what the products look like this time, and I welcome everyone who chooses to participate. Together, we are engaged an effort to achieve no less vital a goal than saving the lives of young people.

Contestants must register for the contest at http://www.challenge.gov/ by creating an account between May 16, 2012, at 12:00 a.m. EDT, and September 16, 2012, at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Registrants will receive an email to verify their account and may then enter their submissions via the “Post a Submission” tab.

Dr. David Michaels is assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Inherent right to speak without fear of government censorship May 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm

The statement, “…lawful right to a safe and healthful workplace,” is meaningless, and quite frankly, deliberately misrepresentative of the nature of rights.
All rights are NATURAL, i.e. a right is a capability each one of us has as a result of being created in God’s image. For instance, we are created with the ability to speak; therefore we have a natural right to speak freely without having to submit our thoughts first to government for approval. We are created with legs to carry us from one place to another, and therefore, each of us has the Natural Right to assemble without having to first be granted permission by government to do so. Read the first 10 amendments to the Constitution folks, and really scrutinize the wording. Notice that in each instance, a PROMISE is made that none of the 3 authorities of government, i.e. legislative (Congress), executive (President), and judicial (courts), may be used to interfere with any right that we NATURALLY possess. In no instance does an Amendment state that the People “…have a right to ____,” because government cannot create rights. Simply because words appear on paper, you do not suddenly develop a bodily capacity to do something that you could not already do before a law or regulation is published. Remember that.

Regulation, which is not law because it is not created by legislatures (see Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution), does nothing more than create back door s for agencies like OSHA to demand damages from a business because either an injury occurred or a regulator deemed something violative of regulatory provision(s). Nonsense! It is absurd to claim that just because OSHA putatively was given the capacity to fine businesses, people (and stop referring to us as “workers,” which is how all good Marxists describe persons besides themselves) did not suddenly develop a bodily capacity to be safe while working.

If you suffer injury while performing employment duties and OSHA involves itself, it will do nothing more than take money from your employer. It NEVER has to prove negligence in a court of law, which is exactly what you will have to do in order to recover damages for YOUR injuries. OSHA says, “Gee something bad happened at company X, so let’s send a bunch of regulators over there , determine which of the rules that we wrote ourselves our people think were violated , and then we’ll fine the company. Person(s) who were injured, go file your cases now, we have what we want: money from your employer.” Why should unconstitutional administrative agencies financially benefit from your being injured? That’s useless and parasitic, and only makes it more difficult for employers to hire people. You are FREE to contract with your employer for any terms of employment that you both accept, and that includes agreement that OSHA rules, because they are not legitimate law, will be given no effect during your employment. Similarly, state legislatures and local governments are sovereign and may refuse to enforce any regulation. Therefore, it is critical that We the People demand that our local representatives in the state legislatures begin to disassemble the agency apparatus. We also should dedicate ourselves to involvement in our county and city governments and work to reveal the truth that each may refuse to acknowledge the validity of regulation within their jurisdictions. Our mantra must become, “I WILL NOT COMPLY!” unless everything enforced as law is the product of legislatures.

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