The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a federal agency responsible for protecting workers, has lost a total of 40 inspectors during President Trump’s first year in office. By early October of 2017, the number of OSHA inspectors fell below 1,000. This should be of concern to residents of Oklahoma who work in high-risk industries like construction and manufacturing as the decrease in inspectors has affected regional OSHA offices as well.
The decrease is part of the president’s effort to shrink the federal workforce through attrition; over 16,000 federal government employees have been let go with organizations like the IRA and EPA being affected the most. While OSHA has since recruited two dozen new officials to carry out its work, the concern is that OSHA remains understaffed. Offices in the southeast region, including Alabama, Georgia and Florida, lost the most inspectors. Mississippi, which has the highest worker fatality rate in the nation, had 26 percent of its inspectors cut.
The Labor Department states that OSHA conducted 32,396 inspections from September 2016 to October 2017, which is an increase of a few hundred from 2016. Still, critics believe that cutting the number of inspectors will make OSHA’s presence less felt among employers, who may neglect their employees’ safety and health once they see that the odds of being inspected are slim.
When someone is injured on the job, he or she must decide whether to request workers’ compensation benefits or file a personal injury claim. It depends on whether the employer neglected to enforce workplace safety guidelines. In either case, a lawyer may help by hiring investigators to find proof of negligence and see whether any OSHA regulations were violated. While no proof of negligence is required for workers’ comp benefits, the potential settlement may be lower.