United States Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has sent a letter to the acting head of OSHA expressing concern about vacant positions at the agency. In her communication to deputy assistant labor secretary Loren Sweatt, DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, pointed out that despite the lifting of a federal hiring freeze in April, OSHA still has not filled many vacant inspector positions.
“Nearly six months later,” DeLauro wrote, “I remain concerned about the pace of hiring at your agency as it will have severe consequences on the health and safety of workers.”
For example, in Mississippi, a state with high workplace fatality rates, DeLauro points out that OSHA inspections have decreased by 25 percent, or 100 inspections compared to the same period in 2016. For federal offices covering the Southeast, the number of inspections has dropped substantially compared to last year, with 450 fewer inspections conducted.
Congresswoman DeLauro asked Sweatt to provide statistics by October 31 on current inspection numbers, OSHA personnel, vacancies, numbers of inspections, and related concerns. The lawmaker added, “OSHA should have the adequate staff to help ensure that employers identify and eliminate serious workplace hazards and provide safe workplaces for their workers.”
Since President Trump took office, OSHA has been without an assistant secretary of Labor for OSHA. The post was held during most of the Obama administration by David Michaels, PhD. He left in January 2017, having set the record as the longest-serving administrator in OSHA history.