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Center for Progressive Reform



Improving Federal Worker Safety Programs

Is OSHA Up to the Job?

Created in 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, is charged with protecting workers in the workplace by adopting regulations on a range of health and safety topics and enforcing those regulations, even to the point of pursuing criminal violations of the law. In its early years, OSHA aggressively attacked the myriad safety problems in American workplaces, significantly reducing workplace injuries and deaths. But the war on regulation launched during the Reagan years began a steady decline in OSHA’s ambition and effectiveness, and progress preventing workplace injuries has nearly stopped.

Today, OSHA casts an exceedingly small shadow on the American workplace. It has been starved of the resources it needs to keep up with regulatory challenges and burdened with analytical requirements by adverse court decisions and congressional action. The result is that new safety standards can take a decade or more to implement, and enforcement of existing standards is sporadic at best.

OSHA's inability to keep up with mounting workplace hazards is no accident. Opponents of regulation and those who would rather preserve profit than worker safety have powerful voices in Washington lobbying on their behalf. But standing up to such big-moneyed interests is OSHA's job, and American workers deserve nothing less.

Read more about CPR’s work improving federal OSH programs in these areas:

Major Workplace Catastrophes

Poultry Workers

  • Wayne Farms Fine. In October 2014, OSHA handed down a $102,000 fine to a poultry slaughterhouse for a variety of worker safety violations. Read CPR Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Shudtz' statement on the significance of the step.

Contingent Workers

Federal Contracting

  • Letter to Department of Labor on Federal Contracting Standards. Read the Aug. 27, 2015 letter sent by CPR Executive Director Matthew Shudtz, CPR Policy Analyst Katherine Weatherford, Celeste Monforton, Nebraska Appleseed, Oxfam America, and Southern Poverty Law Center urging rigorous standards for federal contractors in DOL’s guidance on Executive Order 13673.

Silica Exposure

  • Comments to OSHA on its Proposal. Read Matthew Shudtz’s testimony before OSHA on April 3, 2014 regarding its proposed silica rule. Read comments submitted by Thomas McGarity, Sidney Shapiro, Martha McCluskey, and Matthew Shudtz on OSHA’s silica proposal (Feb. 12, 2014).

The Small Business Charade

Reforming OSHA

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