Confined Space
News and Commentary on Workplace Health & Safety, Labor and Politics

Monday, August 28, 2006

SHOCKED! Not Enough OSHA Inspectors

Following the death of a construction worker who fell fell from the roof of the 30-story building to the sixth floor deck, Jacksonville, Florida media seem surprised that there aren't enough OSHA inspectors to ensure that workplaces are safe.

According to Charles Sorenson, an attorney who has represented several families who've sued construction companies claiming the workplace was unsafe, says
part of the reason workplaces cut corners is because they know OSHA probably won't be checking.

"People take shortcuts, that's the simple answer," said Sorenson. "They take shortcuts and they balance whether the fine or the penalty is going to be worth worrying about."

First Coast News has learned there are 12 compliance officers to monitor 37 counties in Florida.

They inspect about 600 places a year.

Half of those places are already picked and the other half are in response to tragedy.

"They can't see even a tiny fraction of all of the construction that's going up and basically they're just reacting to death cases," said Sorenson.
OSHA agrees:
The area director from OSHA says they simply don't have the staff to do routine checks, and he says making a dangerous business a safe workplace is the employer's job.

OSHA has a free consultation service for construction companies, which means someone from a university in southern Florida would come up and check the site.

The area director says a good number of companies take advantage of the service because of the risk of injury and death to their workers, and the lawsuit that could result.
Yeah, but the ones who ask for free consultation aren't the ones we're worried about.

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