Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) joined labor leaders this afternoon to advocate for enhanced workplace safety standards in Pennsylvania's public sector. Earlier today, the Wolf Administration announced its partnership with Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to study the feasibility of extending the protections of Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) standards to the workplaces of thousands of public-sector workers throughout Pennsylvania.
"The safeguards of OSHA standards have protected private-sector workers in Pennsylvania for 50 years. This feasibility study will give us a roadmap to making these workplace protections universal to all Pennsylvania workers," L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said.
Governor Wolf signed an executive order in October that directed commonwealth agencies to take actions that advance worker protections in Pennsylvania – including studying the possibility of extending OSHA standards to Commonwealth workplaces. The study will also analyze the potential costs and benefits of extending OSHA standards to all public-sector workplaces in Pennsylvania.
"I am so excited today to join folks from the Department of Labor & Industry and IUP on moving the ball forward on public-sector OSHA. We've been working on this bill for over 30 years, and are so glad that our newest champions, Rep. Pat Harkins and Sen. Tina Tartaglione, have picked up the ball and are running with it," AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale said.
Governor Wolf is also calling on the Legislature to support S.B. 310, sponsored by Sen. Tina Tartaglione, and H.B. 1976, sponsored by Rep. Pat Harkins, to make the OSHA safety rules applicable for all public-sector employees, aligning them with private and federal facility standards.
"As data from the private sector has shown, OSHA saves lives. Those that dedicate their careers to public service deserve the gratitude of our Commonwealth and not have a blind eye turned to the dangers they can face," said Sen. Tartaglione. "I am hopeful that the Governor's feasibility study will be the first step on the long path to passing my legislation, Senate Bill 310."
"I would like to thank Governor Wolf for his support of this critical legislation that will positively impact the lives of working people in Pennsylvania," said Rep. Harkins.
The feasibility study is set to be completed in the fall of 2022.
"IUP is very proud of its Department of Safety Sciences and its reputation for excellence," IUP President Dr. Michael Driscoll said. "Faculty in the Safety Sciences Department at IUP have provided nearly 40 years of support to Pennsylvania businesses, helping to prevent thousands of workplace injuries and saving businesses millions of dollars in direct and indirect costs. We look forward to our Safety Sciences faculty working with the Department of Labor & Industry on this new initiative and sharing our expertise and commitment to workplace safety throughout the commonwealth."
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