Workers in St. Joseph and the rest of Missouri would much rather not suffer a workplace injury than receive workers’ compensation. While workers’ compensation is essential for the recovery process, no one wants to get hurt in order to receive it.
Preventing those workplace injuries is something that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is supposed to do. Increasingly, though, they are failing as their staff has been gutted and their funding stripped. Workers are the ones who have been suffering, as their work sites are less likely to be inspected and are more likely to have avoidable and life-threatening hazards.
OSHA Inspections are Down
One of the first things that President Trump did when he took office was implement a temporary federal hiring freeze. While this only lasted 79 days, numerous workplace safety inspectors had left and were not replaced.
The result has been foreseeable: Before the coronavirus pandemic set in, OSHA was conducting inspections at its lowest level ever. The decrease in inspections was even more disturbing, given the fact that the economy was growing and the labor force had increased 16 percent in the last few years. More people relied on safety inspections, but fewer inspections were happening.
Then there was the coronavirus pandemic, which shuttered the agency and made for an even sharper decline in the number of inspections that OSHA was conducting.
At this point, a worksite – no matter how hazardous the industry it is in – will hardly ever be inspected unless there is a serious or a fatal accident.
These Inspections Keep Workers Safe
Back when OSHA had the capabilities to perform random workplace inspections, studies found that they significantly reduced the injury rates. One of them, which was published in 2012, compared 409 worksites in California that had been inspected by OSHA with 409 that had not been inspected. The study found that the worksites that had been inspected saw a 9.4 percent reduction in the number of workplace accidents, every single year.
Costs of Inspection and Safety Measures are Negligible
Business advocates often claim that OSHA’s inspections are an inconvenience that raise the costs of running a business, insinuating that this loss forces them to hire fewer people, resulting in job losses.
The 2012 study, however, found no evidence for this phenomenon. In fact, it found that the injuries that happened in workplaces that had been inspected were 26 percent less costly. When injuries are less severe and do not cost as much to recover from, businesses actually stand to save money in lower premiums for workers’ compensation insurance and less expensive lawsuits.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph
The personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at the Smith Law Office strive to represent people who have been hurt in a Missouri workplace. Contact them online or call their St. Joseph law office at (816) 875-9373.