Quote from belgarion
In my years in manufacturing and supervising field trials I can say I lost all respect for OSHA a long time ago. We had employees make complaints all the time. Some were valid, some weren't. Usually, OSHA would send the complaint back to us to answer. If our answer was satisfactory. OSHA was happy. On the rare occasions OSHA actually showed up they were more interested in making sure our documentation was in order and we were properly reporting all OSHA recordable injuries than in a physical inspection. I might add that what constitutes an OSHA recordable changes every year.
Also, thanks to the wimpy fine structure, many companies (including hospitals) find that it is often cheaper to pay the fine than to fix the problem. As one of our bean counters said in a closed meeting one day, "As long as it costs less to ingore it than to fix it we will ignore it."
Want to know who really got our upper management's attention? Factory Mutual. If they found something in one of their inspections they didn't like, they could pull our insurance or raise the rates. Now THAT put fear in the hearts of CEOs.
To be fair, I've seen OSHA do some excellent work. In one incident involving a huge automotive parts factory that I covered during my days as a reporter, OSHA's persistence made a major difference in the lives of hundreds of affected employees. And the public information resulting from the investigation helped to bring a lot of negative publicity down on the factory and its parent corporation, which also helped the employees win a better settlement for the health problems they suffered as a result of management's actions.
I completely agree that the pathetic fines are often less troubling than a mosquito bite for many corporations. We really need to push our corporate-lackey legislators to revise the fines and other punitive measures so that the companies truly fear the consequences of such infractions. Nothing else will make upper management officials (in any company and any industry or profession) change their ways.