OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is an organization that helps ensure safe and healthy working conditions. Created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and acting under the US Department of Labor, OSHA sets and enforces safety standards by providing training, outreach, and assistance. In other words, it helps protect employees and makes company sites safer.
OSHA inspectors are the ground troops for this federal program. They investigate employee complaints, inspect potentially hazardous situations, and document possible workplace violations. The work these inspectors produce can lead to citations, fines, and other penalties against employers. Also, as a result of their OSHA inspectors’ presence, companies are more likely to adhere to federal safety guidelines.
OSHA in Georgia
OSHA covers most private sector employers and employees within the 50 US states and certain US territories. A few public sector employees are also subject to OSHA guidelines. Whereas some states have their own OSHA-approved and monitored workplace safety and health programs, Georgia is a federal OSHA state. That means that when it comes to Georgia’s private sector employers – private businesses and nonprofit organizations – the federal workplace safety guidelines apply. Georgia has three regional OSHA offices, located in Northeast Atlanta, Tucker, and Savannah.
Growing Coverage Concerns
In recent years, OSHA has lost dozens of its inspectors or about 5% of its total federal inspection force. Incidentally, OSHA’s southeast region, which includes Georgia, has lost the most on-the-ground inspectors. Some of these employees left through the normal course of attrition; however, the problem is that budget cuts and hiring freezes are preventing OSHA from replacing those federal workers. This raises the question: will these staffing delays ultimately lead to health and safety problems for the US workforce? What about Georgia’s workforce?
With its already limited resources, OSHA inspectors have been focusing on high-risk work environments such as manufacturing plants and construction sites. But Georgia has a number of additional high-risk jobs related to farming, fishing, logging, and transportation. If the organization continues to lose its inspectors, it will make it even more difficult for this critical institution to do its job properly. Without people in place to help educate employees and enforce employer guidelines, this could mean an increase in injuries, illness, and even fatal workplace accidents.
Georgia Workers: Be Vigilant
With the number of OSHA inspectors in the Georgia region down in the past few months, it will be more difficult to monitor the business’ safety efforts. Georgia employees need to be vigilant about their own health and wellbeing while they’re on the job. Having the right programs in place, and making sure that everyone adheres to those programs, can create a workplace culture where safety is a priority.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney
While it is important to be focused on your own workplace safety, accidents do still happen. If you’ve been injured on the job, you need an Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney. The Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera can explain Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and the benefits available for your disability. We can help value your claim and negotiate with the insurance company. Contact our office today for a free consultation.