The Public Welfare Foundation released a poll this week on Americans’ attitudes on paid sick days and other workplace regulations. In the poll was something interesting as we consider the need to protect cleanup workers hired by BP to clean up the oil disaster in the Gulf. (We just launched a petition for BP to pay for respirators and training for any worker who wants one.)

The poll showed that when asked which government workplace regulations were “very important,” a full 85% said that “workplace safety” was very important. The right to join a union came in last, at 43%, shockingly not too far behind maximum hour limits at 46%.

The government sets various standards to protect workers’ rights. How important do you consider the following measures. Would you say they are very important, somewhat important, somewhat unimportant, or very unimportant for workers?
% Very Important
Workplace safety regulations    85
Family and maternity leave    78
Minimum wage     70
Paid sick days      69
Time and a half pay for overtime work  69
Maximum hour limits      46
Right to join an union       43

It’s great to see that so many people think it’s important to protect people at work. Unfortunately, the budget doesn’t reflect this priority: OSHA’s budget for FY 2010 is only $563 million, with 35 staff. For protecting the workplaces across America, that isn’t too much. Here’s the full survey results.