OSHA (United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is a government agency and part of the United States Department of Labor. Created in 1970, the agency’s role is to provide safe workplaces across the country by setting workplace standards, enforcing those standards, and providing a variety of resources to both employees and employers. OSHA helps whistleblowers, inspects workplaces, and works to improve safety in the workplace.
However, does the agency do enough to help prevent workplace injuries in Homestead and across the country? Many experts claim it does not.
OSHA is limited by budget cuts and by laws which prevent some workplaces from being part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The following workers, for example, are not protected by OSHA inspections and other OSHA services:
•Self-employed and contract workers
•Quarry and mine workers
•Employees in the public sector
•Workers on small and family-owned farms
In addition to these exemptions, experts claim that OSHA has not always managed to secure convictions in cases where employers have violated workplace rules. In fact, there have been only 12 criminal convictions secured by the agency since 1970 and in many cases the maximum penalties for violations of OSHA rules amount to jail time of only a few months.
Budget cuts are also a key concern for OSHA (and for anyone who has had to claim workers compensation in Homestead or another community due to a preventable injury). According to a recent article in Think Progress, the statistics and numbers regarding OSHA are not very promising:
•The average workplace covered by OSHA rules can expect an inspection every 99 years, largely due to staffing and budget problems.
•Between 1981 and 2011, the number of workplaces doubled but the ratio of inspectors to places of work was slashed in half, so that there were fewer inspections in 2011 when compared with 1981.
•In 2011, over 4500 employees were killed in the workplace, or an average of 13 workers each day across the US.
•In 2104, it is expected that OSHA’s budget will be slashed from $576 million (in 2012) to $531 million or even as low as $443 million. This would make the budget the lowest the agency has seen since the early 1990s and would make it difficult to hire new workers and inspectors or to conduct more inspections.
This is bad news to Florida residents, where construction site injuries in Homestead as well as many other workplace-related injuries claim lives each year and cause terrible suffering as well as catastrophic injury. According to Think Progress, state regulation agencies have also been seeing budget cuts, meaning that there are fewer people and authorities cracking down on unsafe work conditions.
OSHA remains committed to workplace safety and their website (https://www.osha.gov/) is still a powerful resource for workers and employers. However, more obviously needs to be done to prevent injuries in the workplace.
Have you been injured on the job? A personal injury attorney may be able to help you understand whether you have a case. To find out about compensation options available to you, contact Flaxman Law Group at any time for a free, no obligation case evaluation.