The United States has made considerable strides in improving workplace safety over the last two decades. A report published earlier this week by AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. federation of trade unions, shows that the number of fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 workers in the U.S. fell from 4.2 in 2006 to 3.5 in 2018. Despite the progress, there are still challenges to overcome with the report highlighting a higher than average death rate among Latino workers. They experienced 3.7 fatal occupational injuries per 100,000 workers that year. A key element of upholding safety standards in the workplace involves federal andstate inspections by OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Unfortunately, the agency's staffing and resources are insufficient for it to carry out its task effectively.
There were 1,767 OSHA inspectors in the U.S. in 2019 and they were responsible for approximately 147 million employees. That is just one inspector for every 83,207 employees and the above total falls short of the International Labor Organization's benchmark of 14,703. The sheer scale of the challenge facing OSHA in carrying out inspections at all job sites was highlighted in the report and the task could take hundreds of years in some states at current staffing levels. In Arkansas, it would take OSHA inspectors 323 years to guarantee safety in all work sites and more than 250 years in South Carolina, Florida and Arizona.