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Posted: July 13th, 2022

Occupational Safety and Health


Is the Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) regulations adequate and if not, how workers can be safer on the job?

It would be best to say they aren’t adequate. How they aren’t funded properly, not enough inspectors to inspect job sites, etc. You can add details from the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire for support also.

Occupational Safety and Health
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Labor is the foundation of the economic and social force; thus, safety and health are important at a place of work. All working people are protected under Occupational safety and health regulations. The state protects all workers under this law by affording them full protection against all the hazards in their environment. The employers must fully enforce the rules, and lack of adherence leads to penalties. Research shows that at least 6000 employed dies from workplace injuries while approximately 50,000 die from workplace hazard exposure. Implementing adequate safety and health regulations is necessary to reduce worker illness and injuries.
The OSHA rules apply in sites, projects, and establishments where work or economic activity is being undertaken. The law also covers the contractors that are engaged in public sector projects. The act covers all employees except the self-employed ones. The act does not protect the workers in the public sector and the government owned agencies. In the act, the employers are responsible for providing the employees with hazard-free environments. The working environments must comply with OSHA standards, requirements, and regulations. The employer must provide the appropriate tools and protective equipment (Cantor,2007). The employees must have medical examinations, training of the OSHA standards, access to their medical records, and nondiscriminatory treatment to those who exercise their rights under the OSHA. In case of an accident, the employers must report to OSHA within 8 hours of occurrence.
The employees must comply with the OSHA requirements to prevent exposure to health hazards, thus maintaining workplace safety. All the employees are expected to review the OSHA standard, conditions, and regulations. Moreover, the employee must receive adequate training on how to act towards an emergency (McEvoy,2005). The employee can request for emergency procedures from the employer. In case of any complaints, the employee must present the issues according to the OSHA regulations and requirements.
The OSHA act was passed by congress in 1970 to assure the safety of all workers. Employees must be protected from chemical exposure; thus, companies must be compliant with the OSHA act. OSHA created the permissible exposure limits (PEL) that apply to this day. However, knowledge regarding toxicity and exposure has evolved ever since (McLenny,2014). Failure to comply with these rules is regarded as a failure to protect your employees. However, yielding to the OSHA rules is not enough. Companies are required to go beyond the regulation to create safe environments for their employees. Research shows that OSHA standards can be dangerously outdated because some of them date back to 1970. Some standards have been revised since their conceptions. The best example is the PEL. However, most of the rules remain frozen in time.
Moreover, the jurisdiction overlaps, thus causing bizarre incompatibility. For example, OSHA’s and PELS’ are based on the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), revised annually (McLenny,2014). The incompatibility that results from revision disharmony can cause violations and hazardous accidents in the workplace.
The federal government funds OSHA act within the federal. There have been conspiracy that OSHA is self-funded and that they derive their revenue from fines. However, this has been classified as a myth. Research shows that the government underfunds OSHA. For example, in 2020, Trump cut its funding by $4.4 million, representing a 10% cut. The OSHA warned that the amount would lead to fewer inspections and training. The Chemical Safety Board (CSB and the Training grant program will be affected by this cut, resulting in inadequate assessments. Underfunding prevents adequate education and training in the workplace. Also, this affects the highly hazardous workplaces which often encompass low literacy individuals.
The Triangle Shirtwaist fire incident occurred in 1911. the ferocious fire broke out on the 9th floor of the Ney York building. Many were unable to escape because some stairwells and exits were locked. Approximately 146 workers were killed in the fire. The event spurred concerns about working conditions and the improvement of working environments (McEvoy,2005). The scenario proved that no one should lose their life because of companies that put profit before workers’ safety and protection. Many of the devastating incidents can be prevented by proper implementation of safety precautions. Regardless, not every company is consistent with these measures. Therefore, the OSHA act ensures that such companies adhere to the rules. The OSHA act requires both the employer and employee to adhere to the rules for adequate protection. Research shows that undocumented workers receive the worst treatment. Most of these workers are immigrants who work in physically demanding workspaces (McGarity,2014). Such workers have to cut corners to be safe in their workplace.
The OSHA act was established to take care of workers in various spaces. The act has been effective over the years; however, it faces challenges such as lack of updates and government underfunding. Lack of timely updates prevents the act from providing updated measures that are in harmony with other laws. Therefore the incongruence can cause confusion that may lead to accidents and exposure to hazardous situations. Underfunding the OSHA act results in limitations in workplace training and inspections. Lack of training and conducting adequate inspections leads the workers to get exposed to hazardous accidents.

McEvoy, A. F. (2005). The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911: Social change, industrial accidents, and the evolution of common-sense causality. Law & Social Inquiry, 20(2), 621-651.
McGarity, T. O. (2014). Reforming OSHA: Some Thoughts for the Current Legislative Agenda. Hous. L. Rev., 31, 99.
McLenny, B. L. (2014). The new OSHA rules and the worker’s right to know. Hastings Center Report, 38-45.

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