OSHA Reductions Mean More Deaths, Injuries, Illnesses

When Donald Trump promised to trim the federal workforce, he didn’t say he’d be cutting back the trained professionals who protect workers’ health and safety on their jobs.
But, since Trump took office, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has already lost 40 inspectors through attrition, and has been slow to replace them.
These reductions are especially serious because it takes time to train new inspectors. Meanwhile, Trump and Congressional Republicans have tightened the time limit for issuing citations against health and safety violations.
Reducing OSHA won’t lead to less “waste, fraud and abuse,” but will cause more worker deaths, injuries and illnesses. Forty-seven years ago, President Nixon – a Republican – worked with a Democratic Congress to protect workers by creating OSHA. Before OSHA, some 14,000 workers were killed on their jobs every year. Now, “only” 6,000 workers are fatally injured annually.
In addition to staff reductions, as former OSHA officials David Michaels and Kathleen Rest warn, the Administration and its Congressional allies are weakening worker safeguards, as well as enforcement, research and education. For example, OSHA is watering down protections for workers exposed to beryllium, which causes cancer, and silica, which causes lung disease. This is alongside a 40% budget cut for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which researches job safety and health and training professionals in these fields.
Watch Former OSHA official Jordan Barab explain why these cuts are so harmful.