In 1970, Congress established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to “assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” However, in the early years of OSHA many procedures were undefined, particularly around the administrator’s role in implementing emergency temporary standards.
In 1974, the National Health Law Program joined a case on behalf of farm workers who were exposed to dangerous pesticides. The Florida Peach Growers Association argued that the court should strike down the temporary standard first adopted by the Department of Labor and instead implement a more lax emergency temporary standard issued by OSHA that did not stop pesticide use, once again putting the health of farm workers at risk.
The court invalidated OSHA’s emergency temporary standard, but also denied our client’s request for the original Department of Labor temporary order to stand. The case was a defeat for workers’ rights, but energized the National Health Law Program and many others to continue fighting to protect the health rights of all low-income people.