According to the Government Accountability Office, workplace safety rules in Pennsylvania and other states take extremely long time periods to go into effect. Many spend seven to ten years in limbo before they’re actually drafted and enacted, and after they become official, the situation isn’t much better. The major government body responsible for enforcing workplace safety rules, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), suffers from a severe lack of resources that makes it impossible to adequately inspect all the workplaces that need attention.
Although OSHA has only 2,000 inspectors or so, it must protect around 8 million workplaces with a budget of only about $535 million. Many state safety agencies also suffer from low retention rates and bad training policies that contribute to improper enforcement. The government sequester is set to reduce OSHA’s budget by around 8 percent, so the agency will have to further reduce workplace inspections. Fatal workplace accidents, such as the recent explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, are often found to occur at sites that went without inspection for extended periods.
Workplace accidents can occur as the result of many factors. Inspections that aren’t performed properly may overlook potential hazards, and the lack of training funding available to agencies like OSHA may thus contribute higher incidence of accidents.
Current workplace safety regulations may not be sufficient to protect employees from mishap either. The workplace injuries that these individuals incur may lead to death or exceedingly high medical expenses. Many workplace accident victims seek legal assistance in order to prove that their employers could have done more to prevent their accidents and secure compensation.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, “A May Day Look at American Workplace Safety“, PAT GAROFALO, May 01, 2013