Soon after she became labor secretary in the Obama Administration, Hilda Solis warned corporate America there was “a new sheriff in town.” Less than a year into her tenure, it appears she was dead serious about making workplaces in this country safer. Her aggressive moves to boost enforcement and crack down on businesses that violate workplace safety rules are encouraging. Employers are now scrambling to make sure they are following the rules. The changes are a departure from the policies of the secretary’s predecessor. President Obama promised during his campaign to boost funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, increase enforcement and safeguard workers in dangerous industries. It appears secretary Solis is following through on those promises.
There have been 250 new investigators to protect workers from being cheated out of wage and overtime pay. A new program was started that scrutinizes business records to make sure worker injury and illness reports are accurate. New standards are being proposed to protect workers from industrial dust explosions — an effort the Bush administration had long resisted.
A November report from the Government Accountability Office revealed there is widespread underreporting of workplace safety issues. Investigators cited evidence that some employers pressure workers not to report illnesses and injuries, and they urged OSHA to be more aggressive in verifying business records. It appears that businesses will be assisted in understanding the rules along with stepped-up enforcement. There are plans to hire 100 new OSHA inspectors next year. All of this is good news for workers in this country.
Source: Insurance Journal
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