Workplace Safety Inspections Decline
Health and safety regulators play a key role in workplace safety. They can investigate job sites to ensure that a company is complying with safety regulations. They can also investigate when someone dies at a jobsite to ensure that fatal accidents do not occur again.
A disturbing report from Public Integrity highlights how workplace safety inspections have declined steeply in the past six months. Unfortunately, many workers will be harmed due to safety lapses, and only the government can force change to happen to protect workers. Please contact one of our Delray Beach workplace accident attorneys to review your chances of receiving compensation.
Investigations Fall Off a Cliff
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has primary responsibility for inspecting workplaces. OSHA was created in the 1970s to enforce federal health and safety regulations. In 2019, OSHA conducted 962 investigations into workplace accidents, which was the highest number on record. However, since the emergence of the coronavirus, that number has plummeted—and there is no sign that the volume of inspections will increase any time soon.
Since March 13, OSHA has visited only 5,127 job sites. This represents a drop of almost 66% over the same period the year before. On that date, President Trump declared a national emergency for the coronavirus.
According to Public Integrity, over 90% of fatal accidents occurred at job sites that had not been inspected in the previous 10 years. For this reason, it is vital that the agency get back to visiting workplaces at the same level that it was in 2019. Florida is one of the states that relies on OSHA to visit workplaces, as it does not have its own state agency to perform that work.
Even before the pandemic, OSHA was performing slightly fewer inspections than it had during President Obama’s second term—almost 5% fewer. Of course, OSHA cannot visit every worker in the nation. However, the agency has allowed the number of inspectors it employs to decline from 952 in 2016 to 761 in 2020. A federal hiring freeze imposed in 2017 has cramped the agency’s ability to hire staff. And without inspectors, the agency cannot visit a reasonable number of job sites.
OSHA rarely visits unless someone has died on the job or there has been a catastrophe that sends multiple people to the hospital. Some highly dangerous industries can be randomly inspected, but the Trump administration has curtailed that program. Consequently, we are not surprised that workers continue to be hurt on the job.
Were You Injured at Work?
It is vital to report injuries to your supervisor to preserve your right to workers’ compensation benefits. But employers also need to know about injuries so that they can address any safety lapses at work. For this reason, always promptly report any injury.
You might also qualify for compensation, depending on the accident. For example, some of our clients have brought third-party lawsuits against manufacturers of defective equipment or negligent vendors who injured our clients. These lawsuits require detailed analysis of the events that led to the injury, which only an experienced attorney can provide. Please contact Earnhart Law today by calling 561-265-2220. Our consultations are free.