Newsletter January 21, 2016
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From the Executive Director's Desk

Happy new year! Thank you to all the donors that made a gift at the end of 2015. We're grateful for the continuing support.

In 2016, WEC will continue leading the Healthy Schools Now Coalition and demanding that Governor Christie respect our right to know. We are also laying the groundwork for new programmatic work this year. At our membership meeting in December, 100% of the attendees agreed that climate change is a pressing issue that WEC and our coalition partners should focus on. WEC first convened a mini-conference on global warming in 1998. The WEC board also approved climate change as a policy priority area in 2007 and again in 2014. Considering the recent news from NASA that 2015 was the hottest year since record keeping began, further prioritizing this work seems especially important now. 

We're continuing to talk with stakeholders about what our policy and advocacy work might look like in the future, but if you have thoughts to share, please email me.   


OSHA Updates
Public Comment Period on New Guidelines
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is looking for public comment on its voluntary Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines. The Guidelines were first released in 1989 and are now being updated. They are designed to help employers set up health and safety management plans at the workplace.

The idea of these advisory guidelines is to find and fix hazards before they lead to injury and illness. Visit the OSHA Safety and Health Program Management webpage for additional information and to provide comments. Comments can also be posted using Docket # OSHA-2015-0018 at this link. Please provide your comments prior to the February 15, 2016 deadline.

Fine Increases
For the first time since 1990, OSHA will be increasing federal fines for workplace safety violations. OSHA fines are much less than many other regulatory agencies due to the fact that OSHA had been exempt from a requirement that instructed federal agencies to raise fines to keep up with inflation. New maximum fines for serious citations will likely increase from $70,000 to $125,0000. The precise increase has not yet been determined, pending regulatory guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (due Jan. 31) and publication of an interim rule by OSHA, which is due at the end of July. 

Deb Coyle McFadden, assistant director of WEC expressed cautious optimism, "We recognize that the current penalties are inadequate and are not much of a deterrent for large companies. Increasing the fines is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done by employers to make our workplaces safer, such as proactively addressing hazards, reducing or eliminating the widespread use of toxic chemicals and increasing inspections."
Need a speaker for an upcoming event, meeting, or training conference on workplace, environmental, or school safety issues? WEC staff would love to help. Contact Cecelia Gilligan Leto for more information.
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March 30 
Media Training

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April 24
Worker Memorial Day 

New Brunswick
Watch our PSA on Generators as you prepare for the upcoming storm. 
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