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A Stagnant Budget Restricts OSHA's Ability to Protect Workers

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) recently published “Deadly Skyline”, the organization’s annual report on construction fatalities throughout New York State. We have broken down the key findings into a series of blogs, but you can also read the report in full here (PDF). This is part 5/8.

During its analysis, NYCOSH discovered that the total number of OSHA inspections conducted in New York State have decreased by nearly 63 percent since it conducted a record 13,122 inspections of construction sites in 1986.

In the report, NYCOSH noted that this drop coincided with a noticeable increase in the number of worksites and total population over the same period of time. While OSHA’s budget increased between 1980 and 2010, it has plateaued in recent years despite the fact that inflation and the costs of operations continue to rise.

This has led to OSHA instituting a hiring freeze across the nation, which has caused a four percent drop in their enforcement staff numbers in the past year alone because it has been unable to replace departing employees.

“The current level of federal and state OSHA inspectors provides one inspector for every 76,402 workers,” officials wrote in the AFL-CIO’s Report, Death on the Job (PDF). “This compares with the benchmark of one labor inspector for every 10,000 workers recommended by the International Labor Organization for industrialized countries.”

OSHA could face considerable budget cuts if the GOP’s proposed 2018 budget passes. Included in the budget is a 21 percent reduction to the Department of Labor’s total budget, and a complete elimination of worker safety training programs.

All of these cuts go against the numerous studies that have shown the number of hazards on worksites drop after OSHA inspections. One study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, found that the number of citations issued to a company was cut in half after just one or two inspections.

“Simply put, a decrease in inspections causes a decrease in OSHA fines for violators, which causes the number of worker injuries and deaths on the job to rise,” NYCOSH wrote in their annual report.

Since we first opened our doors in 1983, our New York City construction accident attorneys at The Perecman Firm have successfully secured over $500 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients. If you were seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence, give us a call at (212) 577-9325 to discuss your situation over the phone or fill out our online form to set up a free case evaluation.

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