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Some Sobering Figures Regarding Workplace Safety

Via Erik Loomis:

In 1980, OSHA employed 2950 people. In 2006, it employed only 2092 people, despite the near doubling of the size of the workforce. The explosion at the West Fertilizer plant in Texas on April 17 that killed at least 14 people demonstrated the agency’s very real limitations. There are so few OSHA inspectors that it would take 129 years to inspect every workplace in the country at current staffing levels. Punishment for OSHA violations are often weak and employers have minimum fear that of any real punishment.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. wr says:

    And yet all we hear from the right is how terrible the fascist jackboot of the gummint regulatory bureacuracy is, and how it destroys business. If the Tsar hadn’t apparently fallen to the Bolsheviks, he’d be saying this right now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  2. Gustopher says:

    And, if the response to workplace “accidents” caused by a violation of OSHA regulations was prosecuting the managers for negligent homicide, then this lack of regulators wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

    But we don’t even bother enforcing the weak laws we have after the fact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  3. Ben Wolf says:

    But in its blind unrestrainable passion, its wear-wolf hunger for surplus labour, capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely physical maximum bounds of the working-day. It usurps the time for growth, development and healthy maintenance of the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of fresh air and sunlight…. All that concerns it is simply and solely the maximum of labour-power that can be rendered fluent in a working-day. It attains this end by shortening the extent of the labourer’s life, as a greedy farmer snatches increased produce from the soil by reducing it of its fertility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. KariQ says:

    Freedom!

    In my experience, most conservatives would tell you that this is a good thing and we should be glad that the government can’t tell more businesses what to do. In fact, the only problem is that we still have the iron hand of government holding down poor, oppressed business owners.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. Ben Wolf says:

    Not really on topic, but for some reason this comes to mind:

    http://www.thersa.org/events/rsaanimate/animate/rsa-animate-crisis-of-capitalism

    An excellent way to spend ten minutes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. mantis says:

    Let the market work it out. If people don’t want to get goods and services from companies who use unsafe practices and kill workers and/or customers, those businesses will suffer. The market works.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. wr says:

    @mantis: “If people don’t want to get goods and services from companies who use unsafe practices and kill workers and/or customers, those businesses will suffer. The market works. ”

    For those who remain alive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. mantis says:

    @wr:

    For those who remain alive.

    It works for the dead too. Sacrifices are necessary to keep the market running in proper order. The machine has no pity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  9. Steve Z says:

    Has anyone considered whether state regimes have occupied some of the space that federal OSHA programs previously did? I know CalOSHA has a presence in California, but I have no idea how those agencies interact or whether that may account for the reduced federal presence. Anyone know?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. mantis says:

    @Steve Z:

    I know CalOSHA has a presence in California, but I have no idea how those agencies interact or whether that may account for the reduced federal presence.

    States can start their own OSHA system that replaces the federal oversight if they meet the requirements. 22 states have done this. So effectively, CalOSHA is the only OSHA for California. It performs the same function that the feds would do if California hadn’t started CalOSHA. So the state agencies don’t really pick up the slack from the feds, they replace the feds entirely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. J-Dub says:

    OSHA employed 2950 people. In 2006, it employed only 2092 people, despite the near doubling of the size of the workforce

    That’s some interesting math.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. mantis says:

    @J-Dub:

    I think it means the overall US workforce.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0