‘OSHA at 40’ speakers: Progress made, more to do

Washington – At an event commemorating 40 years of OSHA’s existence, agency administrator David Michaels and other safety advocates praised the work OSHA has done to prevent deaths and injuries, but said more must be done.

Since the agency was created, the number of workplace fatalities in the United States has dropped dramatically, from about 14,000 a year to about 4,400 in 2009. Michaels attributed part of the decline to an economic shift from manufacturing to service, but said most of the improvements made are the result of the government’s efforts.

“Clearly, much of our progress is due to tougher government standards and greater awareness of workplace safety and health practices brought about by OSHA,” Michaels said at the event, which was sponsored by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Michaels and several other speakers at the event stressed that some of the remaining challenges for OSHA include dealing with antiquated chemical standards, a growing service sector with new hazards and updating the 40-year-old Occupational Safety and Health Act.

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