During the last 3 months, 15 miners have died on the job. Most killed in electrical and powered haulage accidents; other fell from heights or drowned in a dredge. Although the number of miner deaths have been declining in recent years, OSHA failed to target high-risk industries like mining. OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program is designed for “worksites that show excellence in occupational safety and health,” but the audit found that 13% of participating companies had been cited for safety and health violations but were allowed to stay in the program.
Miners are not the only ones affects by these oversights. There were 3 million people injured on the job in 2012 and it turned out that OSHA had failed to inspect the West Texas plant that exploded last Spring and killed 15 people.
The need for inspections might be less urgent if employees were able to report safety violations, but OSHA does not respond to worker complaints or protect them against retaliation from their employers.
OSHA’s budget has been slashed by Washington resulting in the ratio of inspectors to facilities falling from one inspector for every 1,900 workplaces in 1981 to one for every 4,300 facilities in 2012. OSHA can only afford to visit a workplace every 99 years, on average.
Additionally, the Department of Labor but the staff of the Office of Administrative Law Judges by 5% last year, decreasing the number of judges who hear wage disputes and benefits cases. The result of these cuts is long waits for sick or injured claimants and subpar settlements.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured on the job, we can help you receive the benefits you deserve.