For the first time in 14 years, Democrats will have a President in the White House and significant majorities in both the House and Senate. While many newspapers have been calling on the Democrats to make major changes in monetary and foreign policies, one has chosen to target the nation’s workplace safety and health regulations.
The Las Vegas Sun‘s focus on workplace safety shouldn’t come as any surprise given that 12 workers were killed in industrial accident over the last 19 months during the construction boom on the Las Vegas strip.
But the Sun doesn’t rely just on its local statistics to make its case. It calls for major OSHA reforms based on an average of 15 worker deaths and 11,000 injuries per day in the U.S.
The Labor Department regularly applauds slight annual decreases in the fatality and injury rates.
But, in the fifth of a five-part editorial series, the paper asks, “can it really be a success that more than 5,400 people are killed every year on the job and more than 4 million are injured?”
The paper’s answer, as you may have guessed, is no.
And it has some ideas on what should be done.
Several areas to address
The Sun says Congress should address six areas:
- OSHA’s budget: Congress should make a financial commitment to the agency, whose budget hasn’t kept up with the rate of inflation, to give OSHA the money it needs.
- Regulation: Congress needs to peel back hurdles to enacting new workplace safety and health regulations.
- State OSHAs: Congress should either find a way to provide oversight and additional money for state OSHAs or end the state programs.
- Philosophy: Inspectors should have the power to shut down a dangerous work site, and the agency’s penalties should be dramatically increased — including making criminal those willful violations of safety laws that result in injury.
- Standards: Congress should turn standard-setting for toxins and hazards over to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
- Statistics: Congress should mandate a full accounting of workplace injuries. Some estimates say the actual number of workplace injuries could be three times higher than what the government is currently reporting.
What do you think about these suggestions? Let us know in the Comments Box below.