Taylor's 'Tireless Work' Helped Spawn OSH Act

Worker advocate George Taylor – one of the fathers of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act – died of pneumonia March 23 in Rockville, Md. He was 95.

According to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, Taylor “helped build the foundation for the workplace and environmental protections in place today.”

“George was present at the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, a landmark law that protected millions of working men and women against needless injury and illness on the job,” Sen. Edward Kennedy, D.-Mass., said. “It never would have passed without him, and workers across America are safer today because of him.”

A spokesperson for AFL-CIO told OccupationalHazards.com that Taylor worked for the union from 1959 until retiring in 1983 as the director of occupational safety and health, a position currently held by Peg Seminario. Taylor also was a member of the Communications Worker of America, and in that capacity Taylor attacked efforts to quantify the costs of safety measures. He once told the Washington Post that such efforts were “an arid exercise in controlling lives” and that human lives should never be quantified.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists presented Taylor with its William Steiger Memorial Award in 1982, and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety in the 1980s honored him with the agency's Alice Hamilton Award for his efforts to improve safety for all workers.

“He was an unreconstructed and unrepentant 'New Dealer' who spent his life's work fighting for
justice and fairness and demanding that government serve the interest of ordinary citizens,” Sweeney said in an excerpt from a letter addressed to Taylor's family. “Millions of workers have been protected from injury and illness because of his tireless work.”

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