Iowa employees could receive extra protection from workplace injuries in the next few years because they will likely see an increase in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections now that 76 new inspectors were hired.
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said the employees were hired in FY2018 and training could take up to three years. Even while the new inspectors are being trained, OSHA has upped its inspection game and conducted 32,000 inspections across the country in 2017 and again in 2018, which is a jump from previous years.
Acosta said President Donald Trump is requesting $557 million for OSHA in FY2020. That would pay for more staff, including 30 compliance officers and five whistleblower investigators.
Complications with OSHA staffing
According to Construction Dive, Acosta said he could add OSHA inspectors early in the Trump administration because of a lift of a hiring freeze at the agency.
Construction Dive states that when Trump first took office, the new administration stopped what had become known as OSHA’s “shaming press release” policy. These aggressive news bulletins took construction employers to task publicly, using harsh language and often accusing them of not caring about the safety and health of their employees.
Instead, Trump’s OSHA sent out statements encouraging contractors to seek the agency’s help in developing sound safety policies before it started issuing relatively tame press releases.
Iowa OSHA states that it is devoted to preventing illness and injury in the workplace, which is good for employees but also reduces worker’s compensation claims for employers. Iowa OSHA staff offers on-site consultation, education and cooperative programs and works with local law enforcement.
Increased inspections should help Iowa employees stay safer on the job. In 2017, there were 72 workplace fatalities reported in Iowa, six incidents of violence and injury by a person or animal, 40 transportation incidents, one fire or explosion, eight falls, slips or trips, zero exposure to harmful substances and 16 incidents of contact with objects and equipment.