The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a branch of the United States Department of Labor that is, according to its website, tasked “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”
And in order to enforce these standards, employers are required to submit to random workplace inspections either by OSHA agents or by agents of a state-run organization (in the case of Iowa, the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Enforcement) who determine whether or not the site meets standards.
Recently, OSHA published its plans for upcoming changes in 2014, which may affect employers and employees throughout Des Moines. These changes will be made with the hope of providing a safer and healthier workplace for all.
Fewer Inspections Altogether
Perhaps the most glaring change in the schedule of inspections for 2014 is that OSHA plans to conduct a smaller amount of inspections overall. In the congressional budget justification for OSHA for the 2014 fiscal year, the agency states:
”OSHA has always operated under the assumption that ‘more inspections are better’ as the more establishments inspected, the greater OSHA’s presence….The problem with this model is that not all inspections are created equal as some inspections take more time and resources to complete than the average or typical OSHA inspection...”
According to an August 2013 article on the Society for Human Resource Management website, OSHA will inspect 1,711 fewer worksites than the 40,961 they did in 2012.
More Health Inspections and Fewer Safety Inspections
Amidst the smaller number of inspections will be a rise and fall in specific types of inspections. The OSHA congressional budget justification states that out of the 39,250 federal inspections they will conduct in 2014, 31,400 will be safety inspections, and 7,850 will be health inspections. Although the disparity in the numbers is large, this is actually a decrease in safety inspections and an increase in health inspections.
What do these changes mean for you?
An increase in health inspections may be beneficial for employees at those businesses that are subject to this scrutiny. Health inspections are meant to examine the conditions of jobsites where chemical hazards and health issues are more likely to present themselves, according to the SHRM article, and a higher number of inspections ideally will reduce the incidence of job-related illnesses.
A decrease in safety inspections may not be as productive for workers in Des Moines. In fact, according to a 2012 article published in the journal Science that randomly tested establishments across California, those that received random safety inspections saw a 9.4 percent decrease in injury rates, compared to employers who were not inspected but were eligible. The researchers found this did not place a large financial burden on the employer.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Unfortunately, no matter how many health or safety inspections are planned for the year 2014, some employers in Des Moines will still choose to shirk their responsibilities and avoid following regulations at the cost of the health of their employees. And while some unsafe conditions may not cause problems, others may lead to injuries or illnesses for employees.
If you have been injured while at work in Des Moines, contact an attorney. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair we can help you file a claim for workers’ compensation so that you can recover benefits for your injury or illness. Call us at (888) 435-9886 and let us begin today.