Some OSHA regulations have been delayed for as long as 31 years, with presidents, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court all contributing to the slowdown in the rulemaking process.
“The requirements on OSHA have nearly paralyzed the agency,” said Justin Feldman, worker health and safety advocate with Public Citizen and author of the report. “As a result, OSHA cannot adequately protect workers from toxic chemicals, heat stress, repetitive use injuries, workplace violence and many other occupational dangers. Inadequate regulation imposes tremendous costs on workers, who may be forced to pay with their health or even their lives.”
Because so much time and resources are spent trying to promulgate fewer standards, Public Citizen asserts that OSHA has been unable to address many other risks. For example, NIOSH has identified 682 toxic chemicals to which workers are exposed. OSHA has no existing regulation for 244 of these chemicals, meaning workers can be exposed to them at any level. For another 196 chemicals, OSHA’s standards offer less protection than NIOSH recommends. OSHA has regulated only two chemicals since 1997; industry, meanwhile, develops two new chemicals every day.