Workers at Risk: Regulatory Dysfunction at OSHA

Source: Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Matthew Shudtz, Center for Progressive Reform, White Paper #1003, February 2010

From the press release:
The white paper, Workers at Risk: Regulatory Dysfunction at OSHA, describes OSHA’s descent into dysfunction:

In its early years, OSHA acted with great vigor, establishing important standards for occupational health and safety that have prevented hundreds of thousands of injuries and illnesses. But the agency has not aged gracefully. Today its enforcement staff is stretched thin and the rulemaking staff struggle to produce health and safety standards that can withstand industry legal challenges. In short, OSHA is a picture of regulatory dysfunction….

The white paper notes that in the last decade, “OSHA has dropped more standards from its
regulatory agenda than it has finalized,” attributing OSHA’s failure to regulate to a lack of
sufficient budget authority. At the same time, the authors write, “the agency’s enforcement
program has assessed such paltry fines for even fatality-related violations of the law that many employers see no incentive in addressing hazards, much less developing precautionary health and safety programs.”

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