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New Report Recommends More Efficient Workplace Safety Monitoring by OSHA

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report analyzing the effectiveness of OSHA’s enforcement of workplace safety on a state level. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is charged with overseeing workplace safety and health for more than 130 million workers nationwide. In approximately half of the states, OSHA establishes and enforces compliance with federal safety and health standards. The remaining states set and enforce their own workplace safety standards under OSHA-approved plans. In 2010, OSHA strengthened its monitoring of state-run programs following a dozen workplace fatalities in one of those states. However, doubts have since been voiced about how closely OSHA monitors its own enforcement efforts.

OSHA Responsible for Workplace Safety Regulations

In its report, published on February 25, the Government Accountability Office indicated that OSHA officials provide more frequent monitoring and more consistent guidance for its federal enforcement activities than they do for state-run activities, which could have an adverse impact on workers in these states. According to the report, “OSHA’s lack of consistent guidance for audits of these state-run programs may allow enforcement deficiencies to go undetected, increasing the risk of worker injuries, illnesses, or death.”

Although the GAO recognizes OSHA’s past efforts to better assess the effectiveness of both its federal and state workplace safety efforts, it indicates that it isn’t always clear how these steps will help OSHA demonstrate what efforts result in better outcomes for workers. For example, OSHA more than doubled federal penalties for serious workplace safety violations from October 2010 through the end of 2012, in order to increase workplace safety compliance, and recommended that state-run programs make the same changes. However, officials who represent state-run programs argued that OSHA failed to provide data that showed “increased penalties were effective in deterring employer violations.”

Consult Our Workers’ Comp Attorneys Today

Officials with OSHA are responsible for establishing and enforcing standards for workplace safety in order to protect the health and safety of workers nationwide. Unfortunately, when the agency fails to demonstrate the effectiveness of enforcement activities on the federal level in reducing the risk of workplace injuries and deaths, it is far less likely that states with state-run programs will adopt such activities to protect their own workers. If you have suffered injuries in a workplace accident in Oklahoma City, or elsewhere in Oklahoma, contact our knowledgeable attorneys at Oklahoma Legal Center today. Our law firm is located in Oklahoma City, and our lawyers have years of experience protecting the rights of injured workers across the state.

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