Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Alexa Marrero
McMorris Rodgers Statement: Hearing on Whistleblower and Victim’s Rights Provisions of H.R. 2067, the “Protecting America’s Workers Act”
Thank you Madam Chair and good morning everyone. Since today is recognized around the world as Worker Memorial Day, I would like to begin my comments by acknowledging the family members who have come to Washington, DC to share their stories about loved ones injured or killed on the job. Yesterday, the House passed H. Res. 375 honoring those who lost their lives in the workplace. I would like to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to them.
Turning to the focus of today’s hearing, I would like to thank the Chairwoman for providing another opportunity to further examine H.R. 2067, the “Protecting America’s Workers Act.” We have before us a large panel of distinguished witnesses and I look forward to hearing their expertise on two specific issues: whistleblowers and victim’s rights.
As I mentioned during our hearing last month, providing a safe workplace should be an employer’s number one responsibility. And, it should be a shared responsibility – one that reflects partnerships between the federal, state, and local governments, the private sector, employers, and other interested stakeholders. Notwithstanding these shared efforts, there is no doubt in my mind that workers should be able to report illegal or unsafe practices without fear. I don’t think anyone here would have sympathy for an employer who did not take safety seriously.
The provisions in the current OSH Act that protect employees who report these illegal and unsafe practices from retaliation are the subject of today’s hearing. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses as to how these protections are implemented, what changes are needed, why they are needed, and whether the changes proposed by H.R. 2067 are the most appropriate. I say this because with any legislative proposal, particularly one that changes longstanding policies, we must be certain that we are not doing more harm than good.
In addition, today’s hearing will examine what’s known as “victim’s rights” – the information and cooperation afforded to those employees who are injured and families who have lost a loved one in the workplace. We will hear from one family about OSHA’s failure to inform them of conclusions reached in fatality investigations, which is unacceptable. Current OSHA policy should have precluded this oversight. I am interested to learn why these policies were not implemented appropriately.
Finally, I would just like to thank the Chairwoman for her interest in this topic and for giving us the opportunity to look more closely at workplace safety. This hearing is the latest in a series of hearings looking at aspects of H.R. 2067, the “Protecting America’s Workers Act,” and the broader issue about how to keep Americans safe and healthy on the job. I look forward to a productive, lively debate this morning and yield back.
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