Worker Safety in Trump’s America

By Andy Knauer on June 10, 2017

In recent months, occupational safety regulations have been revisited by the Trump Administration as part of their more sweeping agenda to promote growth and competition. Recently, for example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration abruptly sidelined imminent action on rules that would lower workplace exposure to silica and beryllium, two commonly used minerals linked to debilitating lung diseases. Further, the President’s recent budget draft eliminated funding to the Chemical Safety Board and an OSHA grant program, both of which are designed to promote worker safety.

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At JUST Capital, we have surveyed tens of thousands of ordinary people to find out what issues they prioritize when it comes to corporate behavior.  Our 2016 polling revealed that the American people value workers – how well they’re paid and treated – above else when it comes to corporate behavior. Worker Treatment, which accounts for about 25% of our scoring model, is comprised of several key components – the second most heavily weighted of which is whether companies provide a safe workplace.

The revision of occupational safety regulations has major implications across the board, but it’s especially relevant for certain industries. In JUST Capital’s research, we analyzed companies based on metrics of Worker Safety, including commitments to providing a safe workplace, total recordable incident rates, and controversies in workplace safety.

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Source: JUST Capital

When we score each industry relatively, those with the highest scores in worker safety include Banks, Commercial & Professional Services, Insurance, Internet Software & Services, and Software. This is not entirely surprising, considering these industries have less exposure to worker safety risks. Those with the lowest scores in worker safety include Capital Goods, Chemicals, Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels, Retailing, and Utilities. These lower scoring industries might be more prone to incidents and controversies, or they might more inconsistently commit to workplace safety, or both. Regardless, workers in these industries may be most vulnerable to shifts in federal regulation.

That said, in those lower scoring industries, each has companies that stand out for their efforts in promoting safety in their workspaces – including AES Corp (Utilities), Cabot (Chemicals), Cimarex Energy (Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels), Home Depot (Retailing), and WW Grainger (Capital Goods). Despite industry trends, these corporations have taken the lead in providing structures for safe workplaces, an effort which grows more relevant by the day.

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These companies:

  • had minimal or no safety incidents, and
  • committed to at least four of the following:
    1. a policy to improve employee health and safety
    2. a policy to improve employee health and safety within the company and its supply chain
    3. an employee health and safety team
    4. training its executives or key employees on health and safety
    5. health and safety management systems in place

In the coming months, all inhabitants of the corporate ecosystem will continue to be vulnerable to shifts in federal regulations. Workers, whose fair treatment exists at the forefront of Americans’ perception of JUST business behavior, could be impacted severely by these changes. JUST Capital will continue to track how companies perform on issues of worker safety, regardless of whether the federal government sets standards for corporations to follow. As the corporate landscape grows more uncertain, individual companies and industries will likely need to uphold the values of the American people themselves.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com.