Too Few Job Safety Inspectors, Too Many Dangers

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
(AP photo)

Here’s the task facing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): It has about 2,000 employees devoted to inspecting 8 million workplaces throughout the United States.


Two thousand inspectors for 8 million locations means 4,000 workplaces per OSHA specialist.


No wonder more than 4,300 people lost their lives at work in 2012.


In Southeast Texas alone, OSHA could use more inspectors to keep watch over the petro-chemical industry. There, all kinds of dangers exist in a line work where explosions and industrial accidents are common.


Adan Juan Padron was one of thousands of American workers killed on the job when he crawled inside an empty vertical tank to clean its “waste-encrusted” sides. Padron, 41, died after a “slab of waste” broke loose from above and broke his neck, according to the Dallas Morning News.


The newspaper discovered many other examples like Padron’s:


·         David Lee Ingram, 53, died after he lost his oxygen hood inside a tanker in South Carolina in 2007.

·         Dannye R. Allen, 53, was hit by a truck at a highway spill near Warsaw, Kentucky, in 2011.

·         Alton Charles Washington, 46, inhaled hydrogen sulfide gas at a Louisiana refinery in 2007.

·         Henry Arnoldo Flores, 28, died after a flash fire erupted in a rail tank car in Commerce City, Colorado, in 2010.

·         Jose Francisco Fuentes, 21, had his chest cleaved open by 8,000-psi water jet used to clean polymer tanks in Odessa in 2002.


OSHA’s 2014 budget request of $571 million is relatively small, dwarfed by such government entities as the Environmental Protection Agency ($8.2 billion).


“You want them to be more preventive,” AFL-CIO safety and health director Peg Seminario said to the Dallas Morning News. “How do they do this with this minimum number of people they have?”


“We’re a small agency with a big job,” OSHA spokesman Jesse Lawder told the newspaper. “We can’t be in every company every day.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

OSHA No Match for Workplace Dangers that Kill Thousands (by Randy Lee Loftis, Dallas Morning News)

Is OSHA Missing the Boat by Ignoring Long-Term Health Threats to Workers? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

OSHA Averages One Workplace Safety Regulation a Year (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Leave a comment