Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Federal Workplace Safety Agency Takes On Transgender Restroom Access

     The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) isn't just about hard hats and safer machinery anymore. The federal government agency charged with regulating workplace conditions has formed an "alliance" with a "national social justice advocacy organization for transgender people" primarily to promote gender-appropriate restroom access. The agreement, signed on April 27, is part of a larger OSHA program to partner with groups "committed to worker safety and health to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses."
     This particular alliance provides for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) to "[r]eview, promote and disseminate the OSHA-developed bulletin of recommended best practices for restroom access for transgender workers." In return, the NCTE will disseminate general OSHA information on a quarterly basis via its website or other method as well as provide OSHA representatives opportunities to speak at NCTE events.
     The press release announcing the agreement notes:
A report released by NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that 55 percent of transgender people surveyed lost a job due to bias. Twenty-two percent of workers in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported that they were denied access to gender-appropriate restrooms on the job.
     OSHA describes the Alliance program as follows:
Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, and to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. Alliance Program participants do not receive exemptions from OSHA inspections or any other enforcement benefits.
     OSHA's agreement with the National Center for Transgender Equality will last for two years.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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