Oct. 3, 2005 – Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the recipients of its annual grants for workplace health and safety training. The awards include $5 million for disaster response and clean-up training.
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Earlier this year, grassroots workplace safety organizations and their allies in the labor movement held their collective breath as they awaited legislative action to ensure the Susan Harwood Grant money would be included in the federal budget. In July, OSHA announced that it was accepting applications for the grant money, which the agency had previously said would not be available.
The Harwood grants are a major source of funds for grassroots and university-based workplace health and safety training programs. This year, the grant provides a total of $10.3 million to a variety of nonprofit organizations, business associations, unions and other groups involved in workforce training efforts, slightly less than in previous years.
Meanwhile, workers continue to die and suffer injuries on the job at alarming rates. In 2004, OSHA reported that 5 percent of the private sector workforce had incurred work-related injuries or illnesses in 2003, the last year for which it had compiled statistics. Of the 4.1 million incidents of injury, 68 percent affected service workers. The Department of Labor reports 5,575 work-related fatalities for the same year.
Of the $5.3 million in grant money not specifically designated for training clean up and response in the hurricane ravaged Gulf states, most will go to labor unions and union-sponsored projects. A number of business organizations also qualified for the program.