OSHA to Toughen Federal Oversight of State Programs

osha-logoFederal OSHA will strengthen its oversight of states that run their own job safety programs to ensure they adequately protect workers, the agency’s leader told a congressional panel recently.

That announcement came during a hearing that focused on shortcomings at the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has come under sharp criticism after 25 construction deaths in Las Vegas.

Jordan Barab, federal OSHA’s acting chief, said his agency will review state programs and could end up running one that is lacking.

“We are not trying to change the nature of our relationship between federal and state OSHA, but we need to speak with one voice and assure American workers they will receive adequate protection regardless of the state in which they work,” Barab said.

A federal review of Nevada’s workplace safety program found, among other things, that inspectors failed to issue citations for willful and repeat violations.

Federal OSHA oversees workplace safety in about half the states. The remaining half run their own programs, with oversight from federal OSHA.

In Nevada, the state-run OSHA program weakened penalties against a casino company after two workers died and one was seriously injured, despite that company’s history of similar problems.

“Essentially, nothing happens for the death of a worker,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “There’s something very wrong with that.”

From Source:  The Charlotte Observer