Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Workplace Safety, But Were Afraid Was True: Interview with Peg Seminario.

We complain a lot (and rightfully so) about the health and safety conditions faced by workers in this country. But we've also made an enormous amount of progress over the past decades and a huge amount of credit goes to Peg Seminario, AFL-CIO Health and Safety Director since any of us can remember (and yet she's still so young!)

Linked here is an excellent interview with Peg from the Multinational Monitor about the state of workplace safety and health in this country today and the Republican war against workers. Print it out and keep it handy. It will be useful for the upcoming elections.

Some of the biggest problems: Not enough inspectors
We've got 2,000 job safety inspectors in the country responsible for overseeing and enforcing the safety and health laws in more than 6 million workplaces.

OSHA actually has fewer staff today than it did in 1980. The workforce and the number of workplaces has grown, but the agency's resources have not grown.
And no political will to enforce the law effectively:
For fiscal year 2002, the federal OSHA only issued 392 willful violations, down from 600 in fiscal year 1999. The average penalty for a willful violation was $27,000, where the maximum would be $70,000.

What we've seen is that while the inspection levels have been maintained by the Bush administration, the level of enforcement and the aggressiveness of enforcement has decreased. The number of willful violations, the number of repeat citations, and then the penalties that are associated with OSHA violations are all down.
Read the rest.