Number of OSHA Inspectors Falls

From President Trump’s inauguration through Oct. 2, the number of field inspectors at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fell by 40 (4 percent of total) due to retirements, but so far few replacements have been hired, according to NBC News, which obtained the data through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.


OSHA is responsible for insuring safety and health at all American businesses.

Total number of inspectors stood at 1,000 before the departures. In all, OSHA employed 2,000 full-time personnel when Trump came in, but that number has shrunk by 116 through December 2017.

Former OSHA chief David Michaels gave his take to NBC News: “It means there’s greater pressure to quickly reach a settlement with the employer, which often means reduced fines. The lack of new inspectors makes OSHA invisible. If employers don’t think OSHA will come, workers are much more likely to be hurt.”

Since early October, the agency has hired “several additional inspectors” and is currently recruiting more than two dozen more, countered Department of Labor (DOL) spokesman Eric Holland.

The parent Labor Department also counters that, even with fewer inspectors, OSHA is increasing inspections. The agency says it conducted 32,396 OSHA inspections from October 2016 to the end of September 2017 (federal fiscal year) — a few hundred more than in 2016, marking the first annual increase in five years.


President Trump campaigned on promises of regulatory relief and leaner government operations. Upon taking office, he issued an executive order to enforce a hiring freeze, but he lifted that a couple of months later. Trump himself has let dozens of positions go unfilled at the White House. So, throughout the federal government, there is a palpable sense of going lean.

There has been some notable success. The federal government had 16,000 fewer permanent workers at the end of September than it had at the end of 2016 out of a workforce of nearly 2 million, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management.

According to the agency: “OSHA inspectors, called compliance safety and health officers, are experienced, well-trained industrial hygienists and safety professionals whose goal is to assure compliance with OSHA requirements and help employers and workers reduce on-the-job hazards and prevent injuries, illnesses and deaths in the workplace.”


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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