The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed” to assure safe and healthful working conditions for men and women ” (www.osha.gov). However, 40 years after the inception of the act, men and women are still injured on the workplace at an alarming rate. It has been suggested that the promise for worker protection made by the OSH Act has been unfulfilled (Silverstein, 2007).
Dr. Michael Silverstein spent time talking with people experienced in worker safety to determine what changes can be made to better protect workers. According to Silverstein, “a worker still becomes injured or ill on the job ever 2.5 seconds and these injuries and illnesses have disproportionate, unfair impact in especially high risk industries and among groups of disadvantaged workers” (Halbert and Ingulli, 2009).
Silverstein makes several suggestions that would, in his view, make worker protection a higher priority. He suggests” reframing the language of worker protection to link it with broad resonant themes of health and human rights;
assembling coalitions around issues of shared importance to labor and
environmental groups, community organizations and public health
professionals; building an institutional infrastructure; and strengthening our scientific base” (Silverstein, 2007). At the heart of Silverstein’s recommendations is a generic rule that includes private audits, public certification results and enhanced safety controls.
It seems as though there are both advantages and disadvantages to privatizing and centralizing the functions of the OSH Act. It does seem like a good idea to hold business owners and private inspectors legally liable for negligent acts. The thought of private audits seems somewhat troubling. It seems as though the audits themselves would need to be regulated and controlled to ensure that all companies are being checked thoroughly and equally.
At the end of the day, safety figures seem to indicate that the OSH Act needs to be amended or supplemented in some way. However, it is difficult to foretell whether or not Silverstein’s proposal is the correct way to proceed until it is put into action.
Halbert, T.; Ingulli, E. (2009). Law & Ethics in the Business Environment, 6th. South-Western Cengage Learning.
Silverstein, Dr. Michael (2007). Getting Home Safe and Sound: Occupational Safety Health Administration at 35. Retrieved from http://docs.google.com/.
Silverstein, Dr. Michael (2008). Getting Home Safe and Sound: Occupational Safety Health Administration at 38. Retrieved from