A recent report released by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) reveals some disturbing information about America's workplaces - in spite of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration's (OSHA) 40 years of legislation. The report shows that OSHA regulations are simply not enough to keep workers safe on the job.
Even though average workplace injury claims have fallen sharply since OSHA's inception in 1970 (down from an average of 11 injuries for every 100 workers annually to four injuries per 100 workers per year), industry experts theorize that the actual toll is much higher. The researchers participating in the WCRI study believe that the number of injuries is being artificially deflated by the methodology used by OSHA when calculating averages.
Particularly troubling information coming from the report details exactly how OSHA regulations have failed to prevent serious injury or death on America's job sites. The report includes information that:
- The threat of OSHA inspections is not a significant enough incentive to comply with state and federal safety laws; nearly 65 percent of all inspections find at least one regulatory violation
- Compliance with OSHA is essentially on the honor system unless violators are caught in the act; with OSHA's inspection staff being overworked, workplaces could potentially be operating illegally for years before dangerous wrongdoing is discovered
- Risks are much higher for transient, temporary or contract workers, particularly on inherently dangerous job sites like those in the construction industry
- OSHA regulations are not comprehensive enough to adequately protect workers from known risks that have not been specifically incorporated into the law
This report indicates that as long as OSHA and other workplace safety agencies continue to attempt enforcement of ineffective laws and fail to provide an adequate amount of inspection staff to ensure compliance, job sites across the country will continue to be fraught with danger for workers.