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A look at workplace safety on May Day

May Day, celebrated on May 1, has traditionally been a time to think about workers around the world and their safety and satisfaction in the workplace. United States laws such as workers' compensation statutes are presumed to protect American workers, and most people assume that workplaces in the United States are safer than those overseas, especially in light of reports such as that of a building collapse that killed several in Bangladesh.

However, the recent story of the explosion of a Texas fertilizer plant has shone a spotlight on what may have been an unrecognized dilemma in American workplaces. The U.S. Senate is preparing to investigate the circumstances of that tragedy, but many experts say they already know that the Occupational Safety and Health Association, or OSHA, had not inspected the plant since 1985.

This jarring reality is at odds with expectations in America for workplace security, but experts agree that OSHA's budget will not allow for many inspections. In fact, some say that given the number of employees the agency has, each workplace in the United States could reasonably expect a visit from OSHA once in 131 years. The situation is not likely to improve as Congress considers at least an 8.2 percent across-the-board cut to OSHA's budget.

Employees who have been injured on the job due to unsafe conditions may wish to consult a workers' compensation attorney. In some cases, an attorney may be able to help the worker recover damages for injuries, including compensation for lost wages, living expenses, and payment of medical bills and treatment costs.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "A May Day Look at American Workplace Safety", PAT GAROFALO, May 01, 2013

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