Indiana OSHA Cuts Penalty 94% for Fatality at Indiana Auto Parts Facility

Last October, Melissa Stephens went to work on third shift at Autonium in Jeffersonville, Indiana. She never came home to her husband of  20 years or her four children. Stephens had apparently gone through the interlocked gate, to put a fiber pad over a broken seal. But a spinning belt and pully dragged her into a…

Government Shutdown: What Does It Mean For OSHA — And For Workers

As we go to press, it looks likely that the federal government, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, will shut down at midnight tomorrow night — for the second time in less than 5 years. I have two vivid memories from the last government shutdown in 2013 and how it affected OSHA and American…

Do Fewer OSHA Inspectors Matter?

One sign that anti-OSHA conservatives are getting nervous about articles (and television appearances) highlighting the declining number of OSHA inspectors are articles questioning whether government plays a useful role in protecting workers. In this case, the Reason Foundation, which “advances a free society by developing, applying, and promoting libertarian principles, including individual liberty, free markets, and…

Trump Slashes OSHA Staffing, Endangering Workers

When the same party controls the White House and both houses of Congress, there is always a danger that Congress will fail to provide appropriate oversight over government agencies. Congress is tasked with ensuring that government agencies are actually doing what the law says they are supposed to do, and that they use their budget…

OSHA Is Bleeding: Shrinking Government and Killing Workers

Washington Post reporters Lisa Rein and Andrew Ba Trim published an excellent front page article today chronicling Donald Trump’s largely successful effort to shrink the federal government: “By the end of September, all Cabinet departments except Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Interior had fewer permanent staff than when Trump took office in January — with…

Criminal Prosecution After Willful OSHA Citations for 5 Deaths at Tampa Electric?

On June 29, 2017, five workers were burned to death at Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station —  Michael McCort, 60, Christopher Irvin, 40; Frank Lee Jones, 55, Antonio Navarrete, 21, and Amando J. Perez, 56 — after management forced them to do a procedure that they knew was hazardous, probably just to save a few…

“Anything goes” Death at Goodyear — in the Workplace and on the Road

Goodyear Tire and Rubber makes tires. They also seem to be good a killing people in a variety of different ways — in cars because of their defective tires, and in workplaces because of their defective safety procedures. Reveal (Center for Investigative Reporting) writer Jennifer Gollan discusses Goodyear’s special talent in her article Treading dangerously: Lax…

OSHA Rejects GAO Poultry Recommendations: Sees No Problem With Workers’ Restroom Access

In a surprising and disappointing apparent rollback of OSHA’s enforcement policy related to poultry inspections, Acting Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt has rejected recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) designed to address findings that poultry workers are intimidated about reporting health and safety problems to OSHA, particularly about their inability to get bathroom breaks. The GAO…

OSHA Enforcement Update: Large Cases, More Press Releases.

At a Congressional hearing last month, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta extolled the virtues of compliance assistance, cooperation over confrontation and the Voluntary Protection Program. But he also repeated several times that the agency’s compliance assistance program “has to be balanced by a vigorous enforcement program” and especially when the employer engages in repeated and willful…