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Worker Safety Efforts Face Big Hurdles Going into 2014

A recent report from the Department of Labor's Inspector General concludes that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration face serious challenges moving into 2014 on a multitude of worker safety and health issues.

While workplaces deaths have fallen since OSHA's inception in 1970, more than 8 million establishments under OSHA's jurisdiction creates a challenge in assuring that employers abate workplace safety and health hazards.

The report says that "OSHA must target is compliance activities to those areas where it can have the greatest impact."

According to an article in the Charleston Gazette, recent audits "have found that OSHA has not always targeted the highest-risk industries and that the agency lacked any way to really demonstrate if its programs were improving worker health and safety across the country."

A recent audit of OSHA, made public on December 16, showed that 13 percent of the participants in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program had injury or illness rates higher than their industry averages or had been cited for safety and health violations, yet were allowed to continue to stay in the program.

MSHA faces personnel challenges; specifically maintaining a staff of properly trained, experienced inspectors who can meet enforcement obligations. According to the report, "this challenge will soon be exacerbated by retirements, with 39 percent of MSHA's health and safety personnel eligible to retire by 2017."

Officials from the Inspector General's office noted that mining deaths were at all time lows in 2011 and 2012, but also noted that "mining remains an inherently dangerous industry with too many injuries and fatalities."

With the abundance of natural resources in West Virginia, many of our state's workers are employed by natural gas companies and coal companies. When working on these types of job-sites, it is important to be extremely mindful of all safety conditions in the work area. It is imperative to have the requisite personal protective equipment while on a job site and it is equally imperative to know from job safety analyses what the hazards are on the job site so that you are less inclined to take risks that would result in injury.

If you have been injured due to the carelessness of another or because of the lack of safety on a job site, the attorneys at the Manchin Injury Law Group can help.

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