Some state safety programs not doing enough to prevent injury

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2012 | Workers' Compensation

Last month on our Philadelphia blog we noted that the families of workers who were injured or killed on the job expressed disappointment that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was not coming down harder on companies where safety violations had occurred. Now it appears that it is the federal government’s turn to express its dissatisfaction with some of the state-run occupational safety programs.

Federal law provides states with the option to monitor workplaces for violations of health and safety rules. Currently, 26 states have chosen that option. States receive supervision and funding from OSHA, and, in return, they must take steps to keep their programs up to the standard of the nationally enforced one.

It seems, however, that states are failing to meet that obligation. When a number of workers died a few years ago under the watch of one state’s safety program, OSHA took action and established an inquiry into all of the state-run programs. The results of that investigation were not encouraging. The agency unearthed a variety of problems in different states, including lax safety examinations, unacceptable delays in citations and failures to collect financial penalties.

Injured workers may choose to retain an attorney to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits they need. But it is important to note that businesses may also hire counsel to contest safety violations leveled against them. Sometimes the businesses are successful in getting the violations and fines dismissed, potentially leaving the door open for other workers to get hurt from some of the same health and safety issues. In these cases, OSHA can be helpful in getting state-run programs to regulate companies in the manner that is up to par with federal standards.

Source: Arizona Daily Star, “US regulators struggle to monitor state workplace-safety programs,” Jim Morris, Aug. 19, 2012

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