Despite OSHA’s Best Efforts, Workplaces Remain Dangerous
Although it’s comforting to know that there is a regulatory body charged with enforcing workplace safety in the United States, the reality is that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is severely understaffed and underfunded. As a result, the agency has been forced to prioritize its inspections, effectively limiting them to the most dangerous work environments and the most egregious repeat offenders and leaving the majority of professional industries and private companies largely unchecked. That is, until somebody is gravely injured or killed on the job.
OSHA is one of the country’s smallest regulatory agencies, and as such it must manage its scarce resources very carefully. In 2014, the agency requested an annual budget of $571 million. While this might sound like a lot of money, it pales in comparison to the funds drawn by other government entities. For instance, the U.S. House of Representatives is going to receive $1.2 billion for the same year, and the government is going to hand over the handsome sum of $960 million to the country’s tobacco growers.
The agency is also woefully understaffed. With only 2,258 staff members, only 1,539 of which are assigned to enforcement, it’s no wonder why it has difficulty keeping up with inspections. By comparison, the staff of the Dallas Police Department (about 3,500 employees) dwarfs that of OSHA.
In addition, OSHA has an enormous workload. Its workplace safety standards apply to more than 100 million people within the United States, across an estimated 8 million workplaces. Because the agency lacks the staffing power to perform inspections at this level, it must concentrate only on the most historically dangerous industries.
As OSHA continues to play catch-up, thousands of workers are injured on the job each year. If you need to explore your legal options after a workplace injury, consult with a Houston personal injury lawyer you can depend on.