You may not need to worry about OSHA knocking on your door anytime soon. It would take the agency 107 years to inspect every job site under its jurisdiction, according to a new report by the AFL-CIO Safety and Health Department.
Released April 25, the 9th edition of the annual report says it would take more than 150 years in eight states -- Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.
The report, "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect -- A State-by-State Profile of Worker Safety and Health in the United States," also notes the average penalty for a serious violation of federal job safety standards is $776.
In states that carry out the enforcement themselves, the penalty is approximately $600.
In 1998, more than 5.9 million injuries and illnesses were reported in private sector workplaces. An additional 440,600 injuries and illnesses occurred among state and local employees in the 28 states and territories where this data is collected, according to the report.
Alaska led the country with the highest fatality rate (14.1 per 100,000); the lowest state fatality rate (1.4 per 100,000) was found in Massachusetts.
The report calls for increased funding for more inspectors and enforcement of job safety laws.
"A standard is needed to protect workers from ergonomic hazards and crippling repetitive strain injuries and back injuries which continue to represent the most significant job safety problem in the nation," said the report. "Hazardous conditions in the service sector and in retail trade need greater attention. OSHA should be given adequate funding to effectively enforce the law."
OSHA''s current $382 million budget breaks down to about $3.64 per worker in the private sector.
The report is available on-line at www.aflcio.org/ safety/infodth.htm.
by Virginia Sutcliffe