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Former OSHA head emphasizes enforcement for worker safety

Workers on the job in Connecticut and across the country face dangerous situations in many cases that must be addressed by clear enforcement and general oversight. The former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Association, or OSHA, emphasized these points in testimony before a Congressional subcommittee on protections for the workforce. He emphasized that voluntary programs are no substitute for inspections, standards and enforcement for their effect on workers' health and safety on a job site. Voluntary programs produce only limited benefits for a restricted subset of workers, he said.

He noted that the Voluntary Protection Plan, one initiative by OSHA, requires a substantial amount of resources to accept an employer into the program. Because being a VPP member provides employers with official recognition and exempts them from required inspections, a lengthy vetting and inspection process is required in advance. In the program's earlier days, he said, some unqualified employers were accepted; in order to restore the program, serious resource investment is required. In addition to the direct cost, however, he noted that each VPP program only affects one company rather than making industry-wide change that affects workers in more dangerous conditions.

The employers that join voluntary programs are usually already those with safer workplaces and greater protections. This means that involvement makes little change in the rate of workplace injuries and accidents. Workers facing greater dangers on the job, on the other hand, need the kind of attention that can only come through inspection and enforcement that applies to all companies.

Far too many Americans continue to face serious dangers in the workplace, from high risks of injury to toxic exposure and occupational disease. People who have been injured on the job can work with a workers compensation lawyer at Cousins, Desrosiers & Morizio, P.C. to help protect their rights and secure the compensation they deserve.

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