In a prepared statement, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said: “The safety and health of America’s working men and women should be a top priority of any administration. But, a new report from the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released reveals that the Bush Administration’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration systematically failed to enforce the law against employers who put workers in serious danger. The OIG investigation of OSHA practices under its Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP) – a program calling for stepped up enforcement against serious violators – found that in 97 percent of studied enforcement cases, OSHA’s follow-up was deficient or lacking. This failure may well have cost workers their lives. The OIG found that at worksites of 45 employers where OSHA oversight was deficient, 58 workers subsequently were killed by job hazards.
”The Enhanced Enforcement Program was designed to target employers who were indifferent to their workers’ safety, but OSHA’s leadership under President Bush was apparently indifferent to making the program work. There is simply no excuse for OSHA’s failure to properly designate and inspect dangerous worksites, conduct follow-up inspections and enforce enhanced settlement provisions. This report is an indictment of the Bush Administration’s unwillingness to protect and safeguard America’s working men and women. It also demonstrates that many employers, including some of the country’s biggest companies, are failing to meet their responsibility to protect workers.
”Fortunately, America has a new Secretary of Labor who is committed to putting the needs of working families at the forefront of her agenda. With workplace fatalities averaging over 5,680 annually, the new administration must not hesitate to robustly execute and enforce the law. This report underscores the need for strong leadership and a renewed commitment to protecting workers’ safety and health at OSHA.”