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The Challenge of Informing Workers of Job-Related Health Hazards

  • John Friedland
Part of the Springer Series on Industry and Health Care book series (SSIND, volume 4)

Abstract

With the passing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHAct) of 1970 (P.L. 91–596), the federal government adopted as policy that, as far as possible, every worker in the United States be assured of safe and healthful working conditions. The first step in eliminating any hazard is, obviously, recognizing it as a hazard. As simplistic as this sounds, however, recognizing health (not safety) hazards is often quite difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.

Keywords

Occupational Health Occupational Medicine Wall Street Journal Inform Worker Public Interest Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Nicholas A Ashford, Crisis in the Workplace (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1975), pp. 4,93; and Paul Brodeur, Expendable Americans (New York: Viking Press, 1974). p. 158.Google Scholar
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  3. 3.
    Cited in Ashford, Crisis in the Workplace, pp. 96–97.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Public Information in the Prevention of Occupational Cancer, Proceedings of a Symposium, December 2-3,1976, Committee on Public Information in the Prevention of Occupational Cancer, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, April 1977 (hereafter, PIPOC-Symposium), Umberto Saffiotti, p. 36; and J. Higginson, “A Hazardous Society? Individual versus Community Responsibilities in Cancer Prevention,” Amercian Journal of Public Health, 66: 359–366 (1976).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
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    Informing Workers and Employers About Occupational Cancer, Committee on Public Information in the Prevention of Occupational Cancer, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, Washington 1977 (hereafter, PIPOC-Report), p. 13. Nevertheless the committee concludes that the laws do provide a clear “legal basis for providing public information for the prevention of occupational cancer,” p. 15.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    PIPOC-Symposium, Angela Holder, pp. 57–61. Also see the chapter by Blum in this volume.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Harold Magnuson, M.D., “The Right to Know,” Archives of Environmental Health, Uanuary-February 1977): 40–44.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    PIPOC-Symposium, Dr. Joseph Fletcher, p. 55, also see Leroy Walters, p. 190.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    PIPOC-Symposium, Andrea Hricko, Labor Occupational Health Program, p. 69, and David Wegman, Assistant Professor of Occupational Medicine, Harvard University, School of Public Health, p. 74. For a specific example, see “Nader Group Says Rohm and Haas Company Supressed Data,” Wall Street Journal, October 3, 1974, p. 12.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    PIPOC-Symposium, Andrea Hricko, p. 87.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid., Dr. Robert Eckardt, p. 49.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jack Anderson and Les Whitten, “Asbestos Firms Seek Way Out of Lawsuits,” Boston Globe, October 5, 1977.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    PIPOC-Report, p. 11.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    The “OSHA-1972 Nixon Campaign” Memorandum is a near-perfect example of this possibility. See Ashford, Crisis in the Workplace, pp. 538, 543–544.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
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    PIPOG-Report, p. 25.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    PIPOG-Symposium, Dr. Robert Magor, Manager of Industrial Hygiene, Polaroid Corporation, p. 99.Google Scholar
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    See for instance, “Protecting the Health of DuPont Employees Is a Costly Proposition,” Wall Street Journal, June 28, 1976, pp. 1, 19; and Barry Kramer, “Vinyl-Chloride Risks Were Known by Many before First Deaths,” Wall Street Journal, October 2, 1974, pp. 1, 22.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    At least one eminent defender of the free enterprise system has argued that the voluntary diversion of corporate resources by management to accomplish social objectives, within which I would include the protection of worker health as long as management can successfully externalize most related costs, is inappropriate. See Milton Friedman, “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Profits,” New York Times Magazine, September 13, 1970.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    See Brodeur, Expendable Americans, William Randall and Stephen Solomon, Building 6: The Tragedy at Bridesberg (Boston: Little Brown, 1977); U.S. Congress Hearings of Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, May 28 and September 20, 1976, Serial No. 94-141, Environmental Gauses of Cancer, pp. 8–29, 190, 296–199, and 304–313; William Morton, M.D., “The Responsibility to Report Occupational Health Risks,” Journal of Occupational Medicine: 19: 258–260 (April 1977); “A Sterility Scare Sends OSHA Scurrying,” Business Week, September 12, 1977, pp. 45–48; “Industrial Sterility,” Newsweek, August 29,1977, p. 69; Jon Swan, “No News From the Press Room” Columbia Journalism Review (May-June 1977): 31–36; Gail Bronson, “Confrontation of DuPont, Health Agency Is Sparked by Employee’s Cancer Worries,” Wall Street Journal, February 11, 1977, p. 4; Barry Kramer, “Vinyl-Chloride Risks Were Known by Many Before First Deaths,” Wall Street Journal, October 2,1974, pp. 1, 22; “New Lead-Disease Data Spur U.S. To Ask Smelters to Tighten Controls on Exposure,” Wall Street Journal, February 23,1976, p. 16; “Exposure to Toxic Substances by Millions of Unaware Workers Warned at Hearing,” Wall Street Journal, April 28, 1977, p. 8; “Nader Group Says Rolun and Haas Company Suppressed Data,” Wall Street Journal, October 3, 1974, p. 12; and “Rohm and Haas Finds Excess Cancer Rate at Bristol, Pennsylvania Plant,” Wall Street Journal, July 22, 1976, p. 34.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    See, “DuPont Mobilizes against The Risk of Occupational Cancer,” DuPont Management Bulletin, April 1976 (reproduced in Environmental Causes of Cancer, pp. 99–104); PIPOC-Symposium, David Wegman, pp. 74–75; “From the B.F. Goodrich Company—Vinyl Chloride and Cancer: A Study in Prevention.” Job Safety and Health, February 1977, pp. 20–28; W. H. Weiss, “The Safety-Minded Company,” Job Safety and Health, September 1976, pp. 28–33; and “Protecting the Health of DuPont Employees is a Costly Proposition,” Wall Street Journal, June 28, 1976, pp. 1, 19.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Clifford H. Keene, M.D., “The Credibility of Occupational Medicine,” Journal of Occupational Medicine: 16: 309–312 (May 1974).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    PIPOC-Symposium, Gerhson Fishbein, p. 93.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Keene, “The Credibility of Occupational Medicine,” pp. 311–312.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    William Morton, “Responsibility to Report Occupational Health Risks,” Journal of Occupational Medicine, 19(4): 260 (April 1977).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    “GAO Advocates Faster Development of Health Standards in Workplace.” Daily Labor Report (May 16, 1977): A5–A8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Friedland

There are no affiliations available

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