The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor and it is best known as the workplace safety watchdog in the federal government. It was established in the early 1970s with a mission to prevent injuries, fatalities and illnesses from occurring in the workplace.
Despite OSHA's important mission to prevent worker injuries, the agency is now at the heart of the ongoing budget fight in Washington. Members of the newly elected Congressional majority would like to scale back OSHA's budget. Some members of Congress believe OSHA creates expensive and burdensome rules and regulations without duly considering the costs these regulations will have on business.
During the Bush administration, OSHA encouraged voluntary employer compliance with safety regulations. Over the past two years, the Obama administration increased OSHA's budget and expanded its role by hiring more safety inspectors. Now, as part of an effort to cut $61 billion from the federal budget, some Republican members of Congress would like to cut OSHA's budget by 20 percent, or $99 million dollars, this year.
OSHA Administrator David Michaels believes the cuts would have a devastating effect on OSHA activities. Peg Seminario, the safety and health directors for the AFL-CIO, believes the cuts would leave "the agency essentially crippled and unable to do its job to protect workers."
It is an unfortunate fact that workplace injuries all commonplace in the American workplace. In 2008 alone, four million American workers were injured on the job and over 500 workers were killed. A diminished role for OSHA may only make this problem worse and the frequency workplace injuries may rise. For workers who have been injured on the job and who have questions about their legal rights, experienced personal injury and workers compensation attorneys are available to help them get the compensation they are entitled to.
Source: NPR, "OSHA Budget Cut Plan Spotlights Regulatory Debate," Brian Naylor, 3/1/2011