President Trump’s decision to shrink the federal workforce and slow its growth has affected OSHA offices in New York and across the U.S. So far under the Trump administration, 40 inspectors have been lost through attrition, with regional offices in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida being hit the hardest.
Though the organization has hired some two dozen officials to help carry out its work of protecting worker safety and health, vacancies remain. Training each employee takes time, so even if OSHA is allowed to increase its staff, the decision will have an impact for years to come.
The Labor Department has reported an increase in the number of OSHA inspections between October 2016 and September 2017. However, critics claim that the staff shortage will negatively impact how it enforces guidelines. When employers get the impression that OSHA will never inspect their company, they’ll begin to neglect worker safety and health.
In Mississippi, which has the highest worker fatality rate of any state, there have been incidences where OSHA would fail to follow up on reports of serious injuries. High-risk environments like construction sites, manufacturing plants, and shipyards are especially at risk because they tend not to have a permanent safety staff. Some experts believe that OSHA inspections in themselves do not make for a safer workplace: programs that promote a safety-first mindset do.
When workplace accidents occur and the victims aren’t sure who is to blame, they can file for workers’ compensation benefits. This will, however, waive their right to file a personal injury claim. Consulting with a lawyer may be a wise move, as he or she may be able to estimate a fair settlement and negotiate for it if necessary. If it’s clear that an employer violated OSHA regulations, the lawyer may be able to hire investigators to gather evidence of negligence. Most lawyers leave litigation as a last resort.