Cato Handbook for Congress: Policy Recommendations for the 106th Congress

By Edward H. Crane; David Boaz | Go to book overview

38.
Occupational Safety and Health
Administration
Congress should shut down the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or, failing that, at least
reduce OSHA's enforcement budget,
bar OSHA ergonomics regulations, and
repeal OSHA's so-called general duty clause that allows inspectors to enforce regulations that are not published or are poorly understood by enterprises.

Labored Safety Agency

OSHA is charged with protecting workers from job-related injuries and illness. All Americans want safe jobs, just as they want a clean environment, no automobile deaths, and no crime. Unfortunately, a society free of risk is not realistic. People are generally unwilling to accept the severe restrictions on personal freedoms as well as the monumental economic expense needed to pursue the impossible task of eliminating all risks to personal health and safety. And attempts to eliminate one risk or danger often create other risks, some worse than the originals.

As it currently operates, OSHA does not increase worker safety noticeably. The workers' compensation policies of state governments, for better or for worse, have the major effect on workplace safety. And minor reforms of OSHA probably will not better protect workers; such reforms will simply add to the costs of doing business.

In recent years Congress has made some minor reforms of OSHA. Further, the agency itself has tried to deal with some of the strongest complaints about what are perceived by businesses as unnecessary or costly enforcement practices. But OSHA also has proposed what is perhaps

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