Wolf admin completes ‘first step’ in OSHA study | Five for the Weekend

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf first issued an executive order for the study on worker safety in October 2021

By: - January 14, 2023 6:30 am

(Capital-Star file photo).

Happy weekend, all. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) announced Friday that it has completed the “first step” of a multi-phase feasibility study examining the possibility of extending Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Safety Standards to public sector workers.

The feasibility study, which was conducted through a collaboration between Indiana University of Pennsylvania and several state agencies, examined the five-year period from 2016-2021 and estimated the costs of adopting OSHA standards for commonwealth employees under the governor’s jurisdiction to be $54.8 million at baseline and $14.4 million for year one.

Currently, OSHA protections only apply to private sector employees.

“The safeguards of OSHA standards have protected private-sector workers in Pennsylvania for 50 years. This feasibility study will give us a roadmap to making these workplace protections universal to all Pennsylvania workers,” L&I Secretary Jennifer Berrier said.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf first issued an executive order for the study on worker safety in October 2021. 

“This is a critical moment for Pennsylvania workers, and it’s time we stop asking why there is a labor shortage and start asking how we can make jobs better,” Wolf said at a 2021 press conference announcing the study. “With Pennsylvanians renowned for our work ethic, this is an opportunity to improve jobs in the state, which will attract and retain hardworking people to live here and bring new industries to the commonwealth that want a talented, skilled and dedicated workforce.”

State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, called the completion of the study a “step in the right direction.”

“Today’s news is extremely encouraging, because it is a concrete step toward finally bringing Pennsylvania’s thousands of public-sector employees the protections they deserve,” Harkins said in a statement. “For decades, public-sector employees – from maintenance workers to mechanics to public transportation workers and so many others – have faced unnecessary risks on the job simply because the state does not require public employers to abide by the same OSHA safety standards as private companies.”

Harkins, who introduced the Jake Schwab Worker Safety Bill in the last legislative session, also called on the General Assembly to “move quickly to implement these critical protections.”

A Labor & Industry spokesperson told the Capital-Star that the full results of the study will be released “after consideration by affected agencies.”

As always, the top five stories from this week are below.

Democratic state Reps. Jessica Benham, of Allegheny County (L), and Malcolm Kenyatta, of Philadelphia (R) are the new chairs of the Legislature’s LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus (Capital-Star photo collage by John L. Micek).

1. Pa. Legislature’s LGBTQ Caucus changes up leadership

The Pennsylvania Legislature’s LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus recently changed over its leadership; state Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Jessica Benham, who represent Philadelphia and Allegheny counties, respectively, are the new leaders of the caucus. Both Kenyatta and Benham are out members of the LGBTQ community.

Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery, previously chaired the LGBTQ Caucus. Frankel, who formed the caucus 11 years ago, told CBS Philadelphia that he thinks it’s time for new leadership. Frankel has been a longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights.

Looming large over proceedings (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images/The Conversation).

2. What happens if Trump is charged or convicted because of Jan. 6 referrals? | Opinion

The criminal referral of Donald Trump to the Department of Justice by a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is largely symbolic – the panel itself has no power to prosecute any individual.

Nonetheless, the recommendation that Trump be investigated for four potential crimes – obstructing an official proceeding; conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to make a false statement; and inciting, assisting or aiding or comforting an insurrection – raises the prospect of an indictment, or even a conviction, of the former president.

House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, speaks to reporters beside a map of three vacant Allegheny County legislative districts that will be the subjects of special elections next year. (Capitol-Star photo by Peter Hall)
House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, speaks to reporters beside a map of three vacant Allegheny County legislative districts that will be the subjects of special elections next year. (Capitol-Star photo by Peter Hall)

3. Harrisburg Republicans are leveraging abuse victims for political gain | Opinion

Last week, Harrisburg Republicans, who suffered an overwhelming defeat at the ballot box in 2022, celebrated the election of new state House Speaker Mark Rozzi. We’ve learned in the days since that they did so not for Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat, or the hope of finding bipartisan consensus but for their own cynical, purely political reasons.

Rozzi, nominated and supported by both Republicans and Democrats, ran for speaker to advance his life’s work: creating an opportunity for justice for fellow adult victims of child sexual abuse. GOP leaders calculated, instead, that Rozzi’s election to the speakership would further their own political goal of advancing a series of unrelated constitutional amendments covering partisan policy proposals that failed to garner enough support to become law through the usual channels.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during an event at his Mar-a-Lago home on Nov. 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 15: Former U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during an event at his Mar-a-Lago home on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump announced that he was seeking another term in office and officially launched his 2024 presidential campaign. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

4. In 2024, serious presidential candidates need only apply | Jonathan C. Rothermel

With the midterm elections behind us, politicians are already setting their sights on the presidential election scheduled for Nov. 5, 2024. It is one of the drawbacks of a fixed-election system. In the U.S., the race to run for president begins earlier and earlier each election cycle.

Former President Donald Trump announced his intention to run in 2024 just one week after the midterm elections. While 80-year-old, President Joe Biden will seek re-election, there are some in the Democratic Party who are not convinced that this is a foregone conclusion. In the coming months, expect a barrage of presidential hopefuls testing the waters.

Julia Filomeno, a nurse in Philadelphia for six years who volunteers at the Savage Sisters Recovery outreach, putting an additional piece of gauze on a person’s wound after she had put another pice of gauze dipped in medical honey on it on E. Allegheny Ave. in Kensington, Philadelphia, PA on 8/2/22 (Capital-Star photo by Daniella Heminghaus).

5. ‘Tranq’ isn’t just a Philly problem. But it will take city officials, healthcare workers to fix it

One block away from Kensington Avenue “A.” sat in a wheelchair after having recently gotten out of the hospital.

Doctors at Temple University Hospital told her that if she had waited to come in one more day she would’ve lost her leg. The doctors drained her wound and gave her medication to help it heal.

“It’s terrible. My leg was looking really good when they discharged me … and the second I was back out here, it got infected all over again,” said the woman, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about her experiences.

She kept her leg covered in gauze, then an ace bandage followed by a thick, knee-high sock to keep it clean and bug-free — but to little avail. The wound, she said, was from a drug called “tranq.”

And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.