What would prevent another disaster like the recent fertilizer plant explosion in Texas that killed 15 people? A new poll has mixed reaction from the public on what the right solution is.
Two results from a new HuffingtonPost/YouGov poll seem somewhat contradictory:
- 44% of respondents say current workplace safety regulations aren’t strict enough, while 26% say they are about right and 7% say they are too strict, but
- on the other hand, 52% of those surveyed said better enforcement of existing regulations would be the most effective way to prevent a similar explosion, while only 18% said stricter safety regulations would be more effective.
In other words, a plurality of the public thinks occupational safety regs aren’t tough enough, but only 18% think it’s the best way to prevent future fatal explosions.
The only clear majority opinion in the survey is that slightly more than half say better enforcement of existing regulations is needed.
Why was there more agreement among the public on that statement? It could be because of the general news media’s concentration on the fact that OSHA had not visited the Texas plant since 1985.
Of course, the general public doesn’t realize that it’s entirely possible for a workplace to never receive an OSHA inspection, even one that seems as potentially dangerous as a fertilizer plant. This is possible if:
- you have no fatalities or catastrophic events like an explosion
- no one contacts OSHA with a complaint
- your injury rate is at or below your industry’s average, and
- there are no OSHA emphasis programs targeting your industry.
Public doesn’t have confidence in future
While the public may not have realistic expectations about OSHA’s ability to visit facilities with its current staffing, it has a pessimistic view of the future of occupational safety:
- 31% said it’s very likely an incident similar to the West, Texas, explosion will happen again in the U.S.
- 38% said it was somewhat likely to happen again
- 18% said it was not too likely, and
- only 2% said it was not at all likely to occur again.