Coincidently, after the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas while bodies are still being pulled from destroyed buildings, the Government Accountability Office has said that states have failed in maintaining workplace safety standards.
The report urges lawmakers to pass legislation giving more power to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to dictate safety procedures more strongly to states. The bill has been submitted but wrangeling between House Democrats and Republicans could delay any decision. The bill would include authorizing prosecution against employers and increasing fines and enforcement for companies that knowingly violate OSHA rules and regulations resulting in employee death.
"As yesterday's devastating explosion in Texas shows, the benefits of ensuring a safe and [healthy] workplace are not just confined to the facility's property line. Local communities also have a great deal at stake." Rep. George Miller said while introducing the bill.
Because there are not enough OSHA inspectors many highly hazardous workplaces are never investigated, even if violations are reported directly to the federal agency. OSHA has jurisdiction over more than 7 million workplaces, yet only has 2,000 inspectors.
Shockingly, the fertilizer factory that exploded in Texas had not been inspected by OSHA since 1985 because it was seen as a low risk facility.