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Is OSHA to Blame for Poor Workplace Safety on Demolition Jobs?

Posted Scott B. Cooper on Jul 10, 2013 in Workers' Compensation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created by Congress in 1970 and given the mission to promote safer workplaces in the United States. It sets job safety standards for each industry in the nation, conducts workplace inspections, investigates accidents after they occur, and issues regular progress reports to Congress and the US public.

Some critics consider OSHA a near-total failure.

This is important because OSHA has become the primary rule-maker for some key American industries. Take, for example, demolition projects. About half the states have adopted their own regulations for demolition site safety; they also conduct regular inspections of worksites where buildings are to be razed or imploded. Because of overlapping government jurisdictions, the primary contractor in charge of any demolition project in those states has to follow both state and OSHA rules.

Pennsylvania, in contrast, is one of the states that has not created an agency to regulate demolitions; only a few counties and municipalities inside Pennsylvania have passed local ordinances. The Commonwealth relies on OSHA to write safety standards for the demolition industry and enforce them as it sees fit.

Unfortunately, the critics say, this leaves the public and workers at risk too often.

OSHA: Too slow, too late, and too bureaucratic?

The key charges against OSHA were reviewed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a research and investigative unit operated by the US Congress to examine how public funds are used.

In April 2012, the GAO released a report on OSHA’s workplace safety rulemaking over a 20-year period. The investigators found that it typically took OSHA more than seven years to develop and issue safety and health standards. This delay in developing new regulations means that industry practices may well have changed by the time new rules are issued. OSHA’s rulemaking also tends to be reactive, responding to particular incidents rather than anticipating problems before they happen.

OSHA’s defenders—and there are many—point out that the agency’s slow response in establishing new safety rules is largely due to the agency’s critics, who oppose any rules that will force businesses to increase their investment in workplace safety. OSHA’s directors are periodically summoned to appear before Congress to justify new regulations, and the evidence they present is treated with barely concealed contempt.

The agency dutifully tries to produce thoughtful and well-reasoned safety standards in response to changing US workplaces. It earnestly is concerned about workers’ wellbeing. Sadly, business owners and bosses treat OSHA and its inspectors as enemies of free enterprise and adopt any tactics they can to thwart them.

Hurt at work? Don’t blame OSHA

Workers who have suffered an injury on the job in Pennsylvania know that OSHA is not to blame. In most cases, Pennsylvania work accidents are due to a coworker’s carelessness or business owner’s neglect.

When you have been hurt at work, do you know what you should do next? You can find out by calling our office toll-free (888-476-0807) and requesting a free copy of our book, Who Pays The Bills When You Are Injured At Work? That’s right—we give it away to our neighbors to share information about the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system. If you have questions about workers’ comp, call us today and order your copy of the book today.

If you need a workers’ compensation attorney in Harrisburg, Schmidt Kramer should be your first call. We are committed to helping our clients understand their Pennsylvania workers’ compensation coverage. We can provide assistance if your benefits are delayed, denied, or terminated too soon. Call us at 717-888-8888 or 888-476-0807 to get started on securing the assistance you have earned.