The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Labor, was created to ensure safety in the workplace. Yet, its ability to carry out that mission is growing significantly weaker as the new administration follows through on promises to deregulate in the interest of companies’ bottom lines.
Earlier this year, lawmakers abolished the “Volks Rule,” according to the National Safety Council (NSC). The rule officially recognized the agency’s long-standing practice of holding employers accountable for workplace safety violations up to five years following an employee injury or death. Although employers are still required to record and maintain data about work-related injuries and illnesses, OSHA is limited in pursuing employers for only six months after a safety violation occurs.
Rolling back the Volks Rule removes the consequences for bad corporate actors that intentionally underreport work-related injuries and illnesses. The action essentially gives these types of employers a sanctuary where they can continue to misrepresent their workers’ safety, Righting Injustice explains, because the extreme time constraints further intensify the burden on already limited enforcement staff.
And, the assault on workers’ health and safety continue.
The proposed fiscal year 2018 federal budget that is currently up for lawmakers’ consideration slashes OSHA’s funding for enforcement. Bloomberg BNA notes that the House Appropriations Committee slashes funding by 7 percent, which is more than requested by the administration. While the details are not yet final, both proposals cut enforcement positions, indicating a reduction in the number of health and safety inspections to be conducted in fiscal year 2018.
Cutting worker safety measures and decimating the resources necessary to enforce the measures that remain renders workers powerless against companies that put profits ahead of their health and safety.
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If you have any questions about whether a serious work-related injury could qualify for compensation, please contact Kendall Dunson, an attorney in our Personal Injury section, for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or email Kendall.Dunson@beasleyallen.com.
National Safety Council