When you punch the clock on the job in Texas, you have a right to expect an acceptable level of workplace safety. Federal laws give all U.S. workers the right to a safe work environment. The federal government is charged through agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to monitor workplaces to ensure safety.
It is interesting, then, to note that a recent report found the federal government is not up to snuff on how it ensures the safety of some U.S. workers. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported last month that better collaboration, outreach and information-sharing among several federal agencies is needed to boost worker safety in the poultry and meat slaughter/processing industry.
The GAO’s December 2017 report analyzed OSHA’s attempts to keep meat- and poultry-processing workers safe. Also, the report looked at how OSHA and the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSISS) have worked together to enhance worker safety and how well OSHA and FSIS have shielded workers from chemical hazards on the job.
GAO collected information by analyzing OSHA inspection results from 2005 to 2016. It also interviewed OSHA employees at the headquarters in Washington, DC, and at six field offices across the United States.
The report stated that yearly inspections of meat- and poultry-processing facilities grew from 177 in 2005 to 244 in 2016. This was reportedly because of improved enforcement programs and better reporting requirements mandating more federal inspections. GAO also found that OSHA faces serious challenges with data collection; workers often are hesitant to report workplace violations and injuries for fear of losing their jobs. This hesitance also makes it harder to fully address workplace safety hazards and concerns, such as poor restroom access.
The report also determined that FSIS inspectors are hesitant to report workplace dangers to OSHA because of fears of OSHA inspecting FSIS. Also impeding progress is poor self-evaluation from the two federal agencies. Last, the report stated that not all chemicals being used at plants have been federally inspected for the risks they could pose to employees.
Some of the recommendations from the GAO report were:
- OSHA must encourage workers to report safety problems by doing interviews off the jobsite.
- OSHA needs to collect more information from workers, such as inquiring about restroom breaks.
- OSHA should provide more guidance to companies about managing health units.
- FSIS should establish a process to share worker safety information developed during the study of new chemicals with inspectors from OSHA and FSIS, among others.
Whether you work in Texas in a meat-packing facility, construction site, oil field, or manufacturing facility, you have the right to a safe workplace. If you are injured on the job, remember that time is of the essence. A worker’s compensation claim must be filed in Texas within a year of the date of injury. The injury also must be reported to the employer within 30 days of injury.
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At Guajardo & Marks, we understand that a workplace injury can leave you with pain and suffering, as well as major financial problems. If your employer has unsafe work conditions that led to a serious injury, it should be held accountable and pay you compensation for your pain, suffering and lost wages. Please contact our Dallas personal injury law office today at 972-774-9800 or by filling out our online contact form for a complimentary consultation about your case.