This month saw a continued focus on protecting workers’ health and well-being in the United States. Several key developments took place across various government agencies and industry groups.

Worker Memorial Day

On April 25th, the United States observed Workers Memorial Day. This day honors workers who have died from work-related injuries or illnesses, and recognizes the ongoing fight for safe workplaces. The AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions, released a report highlighting the human cost of workplace injuries and illnesses. The report emphasized the need for stronger enforcement of safety regulations and increased investment in workplace safety programs.

Focus on Mental Health

The month saw growing recognition of the mental health challenges faced by injured workers. A study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) found that injured workers are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems during their recovery. This highlights the importance of providing comprehensive support for injured workers, including access to mental health services.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), a federal law requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, is set to go into effect on June 18th, 2024. This act aims to ensure that pregnant workers are not forced to choose between their jobs and their health. The Department of Labor (DOL) is expected to release further guidance on the implementation of the PWFA in the coming weeks.

Safety in Specific Industries

  • Solid Waste Industry: Researchers emphasized the importance of a “Total Worker Health” approach in the solid waste industry. This approach goes beyond traditional safety measures and encompasses the overall physical, mental, and social well-being of workers. The focus is on creating a work environment that promotes healthy behaviors and reduces stress.
  • Mining Industry: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a new safety alert warning miners of the dangers of arc flashes. Arc flashes are electrical explosions that can cause serious injury or death. The alert provides guidance on how to prevent and respond to arc flash incidents.
  • Aviation Industry: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed new regulations that would provide air traffic controllers with more rest time. This move comes in response to concerns about fatigue among air traffic controllers, which can lead to errors and safety risks.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Updates

The EPA announced its intention to strengthen the process for evaluating the safety of chemicals used in various workplaces. This includes a focus on identifying potential risks early on and taking appropriate steps to protect workers.

The EPA also requested public feedback on the issue of wheel weights and lead exposure. Wheel weights are used to balance tires on vehicles, and some may contain lead. The EPA is seeking information on the potential risks associated with lead exposure from wheel weights and how to best mitigate those risks.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Updates

The OSHA advisory committee is scheduled to meet in May 2024. These committees provide OSHA with valuable input on workplace safety standards and enforcement policies.
OSHA did not release any major regulatory updates in April 2024, however, they continue to provide safety resources and guidance for various industries through their website and outreach programs.

April 2024 saw a range of developments aimed at improving workplace safety and worker well-being in the United States. From a renewed focus on mental health to industry-specific initiatives and upcoming regulatory changes, there is a continued commitment to creating safer and healthier workplaces for all. For additional resources check out the links below.