All workers and employees know and understand that they are not machines, and that they should not be treated as such. Unlike machines, humans need to be treated with dignity and respect and protected, as best as possible, from unnecessary danger and injury while on the job.
Workers are not naïve and understand that some jobs are more dangerous than others and that accidents happen. However, that doesn’t mean that employers should ask employees to conduct or engage in dangerous work without the necessary protective gear to perform the job safely. This is where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) comes in.
OSHA is the governmental agency that is tasked with keeping workers safe through rule promulgation, enforcement of safety rules, investigation of workplace accidents, and penalization of employers who are non-compliant with OSHA safety rules. However, staffing issues, budget constraints and weak penalties serve to keep OSHA’s protection powers in serious constraints.
For instance, OSHA’s ability to penalize a business for safety violations is barely a slap on the wrist, even when an employee is killed. OSHA penalties for safety violations that result in the fatality of a worker range from $7,000 to $70,000. These penalties include willful safety violations – violations that the employer was aware of and knew could cause serious harm to an employee, yet chose to do nothing to correct the violation – by the employer! This amounts to barely a drop in the pool of profits of a large corporation.
Further, an article in the Valley Advocate reports that OSHA has less than 2,500 inspectors to help protect the United State’s 130 million workers and 7.5 million places of work. Sadly, OSHA doesn’t have the financial capacity to increase the number of safety inspectors, and with the legislature calling for a 20 percent decrease in OSHA’s budget, things could get worse.
If you have been injured on the job, speak with an experienced attorney to learn about your options and help you protect your rights.