Letters

Letters: OSHA must implement safety rule

From Emily Gardner, worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen's Congress Watch division, and Sammy Almashat, researcher with Public Citizen's Health Research Group.

All working people deserve to make it home at the end of their shift safe and healthy. Ike Brannon's recent op-ed ("Beryllium broadside: Obama's last-minute rule-making will cost jobs") unfairly decries the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) tireless efforts to protect workers from exposure to beryllium in the workplace.

Brannon's complaint is that, while the Obama administration's proposed rule initially only covered workers in general industry, OSHA revised the final rule to protect workers in the construction and shipyard industries. These industries, he argues, were rightfully excluded in OSHA's proposal because the benefit of preventing construction and shipyard workers from dying of preventable disease was supposedly outweighed by the cost of compliance with the rule.

He fails to mention, however, that OSHA already asked stakeholders to comment on whether its initial proposal should also cover workers in those industries. After careful consideration, OSHA determined that it needed to cover these workers.

OSHA is right to safeguard these workers. Beryllium is a toxic metal known to cause cancer and other fatal diseases such as chronic beryllium disease of the lungs when even very low levels are inhaled.

According to OSHA, 62,000 people are exposed to beryllium in the workplace. OSHA's own inspection data show that 70 percent of the 11,500 construction and shipyard workers who come into contact with beryllium while performing open-air abrasive blasting are, in fact, exposed to airborne beryllium that can result in debilitating lifelong illnesses and early deaths.

Brannon concludes by asking the Trump administration to re-examine the standard and put it through a cost-benefit test.

In reality, the beryllium standard has withstood more than 40 years of debate. OSHA first attempted to regulate beryllium in 1975, but industry backlash stymied the rule, preventing it from moving forward. In 2015, OSHA finally released its proposal - which was based on a joint proposal by the United Steelworkers and Materion Brush, a top beryllium manufacturer. And, after decades of debate, the cost-benefit analysis is in. In addition to saving lives and preventing disease, OSHA anticipates these new protections will provide annual net benefits of about $560 million.

The time for debate is over. OSHA must implement this new life-saving rule without further delay.

Washington, D.C.

Kennedy wrong to question Yates

From Randolph Yunker

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) saying that former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is not qualified to make a determination of the constitutionality of an executive order is like saying that a police officer cannot judge what is a violation of the law when initiating an arrest.

I guess the senator believes that the loyalty oath taken by federal employees should only apply to Supreme Court justices.

West Babylon, N.Y.

America deserves truth about Trump

From Denny Freidenrich

During last year's presidential campaign, Donald Trump said he was so popular he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose voters. Now jump ahead to President Trump sharing highly classified information with a foreign adversary in the Oval Office last week.

Americans of all political persuasions deserve to know how this happened and what can be done to ensure it never happens again.

Laguna Beach, Calif.

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