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Former OSHA head urges focus on enforcement

Workers in Georgia are frequently at risk of suffering injuries on the job due to dangerous conditions or the nature of certain industries. Government regulations exist in order to protect workers from unnecessary injuries at the workplace. In fact, the former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration told the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections that non compulsory employer programs have only limited benefits for worker safety.

On the other hand, he argued that strong protective standards, regulations and enforcement are absolutely necessary to protect workers from injuries on the job. He argued that compliance assistance programs are helpful to employers who are already interested in safety. When employers neglect to put safety first, enforcement is critical. He also noted that standards impact many employers at the same time and help to set clear frameworks to stop injuries from happening. However, many voluntary programs focus only on an individual employer and thus do not have an industry-wide effect.

He also noted that the Voluntary Protection Programs managed by OSHA require a substantial amount of resources. Participating companies receive exemptions from inspections and recognition, but extensive and lengthy inspections are required in advance. Early on, many program participants were not adequately vetted. This required a great deal of later action on the part of OSHA to ensure that VPP participants legitimately merited their recognition. The former OSHA head suggested that rather than focusing on expanding this type of program, OSHA must focus on enforcement against severe workplace hazards and high injury risks in dangerous workplaces.

Every day, many workers face the risk of severe injuries on the job; many more have developed occupational diseases as a result of toxic exposure. People who have suffered workplace injuries can consult with a workers' compensation attorney. A lawyer can help injured workers to pursue their right to compensation.

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