Tuesday, February 03, 2004

OSHA Cuts Web Access

Computers Refusing to Work Overtime?

OSHA has one of the more useful government websites. If you click on Inspection Data, you can look up citations by employer, by SIC (industry) code, and citation number. You can find out what the most cited violations in any given industry sector, you can look up accident investigations and even General Duty Clause citations -- and until just recently, you could do it 24 hours a day.

But no more.

Late this evening I was looking up a certain employer who should be in jail (see above) to see if he had any previous citations, and this is the message I received:

Effective Immediately
This application will be available only on weekdays
between the hours of 0800 and 1800 Washington, DC time

I'm not entirely sure what's going on here, but my theory is that Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao has told the computers that because of DOL's new overtime regulations, the computers would no longer be receiving overtime pay. So they went on strike. Or were locked out.

Or maybe Bush's budget cuts have really hit home and DOL is trying to save money on electricity?

Maybe it's some kind of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, John Ashcroft, terrorist, Iraq, Al-Queda, Weapons-of-mass destruction-related-activity kind of thing. (Note the suspicious use of military time....)

Maybe this isn't about computers. Maybe entire factories of South Asian children were looking up the information and typing it in, and now, thanks to Elaine Chao, they're working eight-hour days with health care benefits. Yeah, human rights, that's the ticket.

What's going on? Has anyone ever heard of a computer database clocking out at 5:00? And that's "Washington D.C. Time," (known to the rest of the world outside the beltway as "Eastern Standard Time"). Tough luck for you Hawaians. Better get your work done in the morning.

This is one of the most bizarre things I've seen yet. What's next, holidays and snow days for computers?

Hey Johns (Kerry and Edwards), are you listening? If this isn't an election issue, I don' t know what is! The first one to speak out gets my vote.