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At 40, it’s Time OSHA Thinks of a Makeover

At 40, it’s Time OSHA Thinks of a Makeover
The very idea of Democrats and Republicans coming together and enacting a legislation for the sole purpose of protecting American workers from on-the-job injuries and fatalities seems inconceivable. But this is exactly what happened almost 40 years ago. On the 29th of December, 1970, President Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Act into law. This act was a compromise that sought to assure that every man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources”.

The OSHA Act has been successful in saving many thousands of lives. If the workers had the same risk of death as they had in 1933, the death rate would have gone up by 40,000 more workers per year.

However, the OSHA Act has not been properly updated since the time it became law. OSHA has become hopelessly overmatched and struggles to look after 21st century workplaces with 20th century tools. Each year, nearly 5,000 American workers pay the price for this, with their lives.

OSHA is understaffed. Only 2,000 inspectors are appointed for covering up more than 7 million work sites. When violations are discovered, it is done after some tragic incident has already taken place. The average penalty for a violation that results in the death of a worker is only $4,000.

All the other agencies overlooking the health of workers have been updated regularly. But, OSHA simply does not have enough resources to protect all the workers.