The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is marking half a century of workplace safety oversight, despite having fewer enforcement resources than in its 50-year history, according to a recent report.
OSHA was created in 1970 with a law signed into effect by President Richard Nixon with a mission to protect workers from hazards on the job. Today, OSHA oversees more than 8 million workplaces throughout the U.S. “It would take OSHA, even in the best of times, 140, 150 years to get into every workplace just once,” noted Deborah Berkowitz of the National Employment Law Project.
While OSHA has typically been a lean organization in terms of staffing, the Trump administration opted not to replace retiring inspectors. Currently, the number of inspectors is at an all-time low. The new administration has called for doubling the number of inspectors in the next term.
More inspections will help in OSHA’s mission to improve workplace safety. Research shows that inspections help to prevent serious injuries. Also, publicizing workplace safety violations helps to encourage compliance. During a pandemic, workplace safety has taken on greater significance than ever before.