Workplace safety may be taking a step backwards due to a decrease in OSHA
According to data obtained by NBC News, there are fewer federal Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors under the Trump administration,
raising concerns about the impact on worker health and safety.
In the months after Trump took office, OSHA lost about 4% of its inspection
force. The inspectors are the ones that enforce federal health and safety
requirements in the workplace by flagging potential hazards, investigating
employee complaints and documenting violations, among other things.
OSHA typically prioritizes inspections for high-risk workplaces like manufacturing
plants and construction sites, since those jobs have elevated rates of
fatal accidents and injuries.
The administration’s reduced staff reflects the President’s
broader effort to slow hiring across the government workforce, but OSHA
recently acknowledged that it needs more manpower to do its job of protecting
the health and safety of American workers.
Under federal law, OSHA has a limited window of time to issue citations
for health and safety violations. So, with fewer staff, there is more
pressure to reach a quick settlement with the employer. According to David
Michaels, who headed OSHA during the Obama administration, rushing the
process often translates into reduced fines for employers who breach safety
OSHA says that its enforcement efforts have remained strong and the overall
number of inspections performed from October 2016 to September 2017 was
up for the first time in five years; however, some states lost more inspectors
and are feeling a greater impact than others.
Industry groups stress that government oversight isn’t the key to
protecting workers. "Inspectors don't make workplaces safe. People
and programs do by working to prevent problems before they occur and by
creating workplace cultures where safety is top of mind," said Eric
Mittenthal of the North American Meat Institute, the meatpacking industry's
biggest trade association. "Safety programs operate continuously
regardless of the frequency of OSHA inspections."
Harrisburg, PA Workplace Injury Attorneys
Have you been hurt on the job? Are you receiving workers’ compensation
for a workplace injury? Metzger Wickersham’s experienced attorneys
can help you through the process to ensure your rights are protected from
start to finish. The consultation is confidential and free. Contact our offices
online today or call right now.