Workers in Connecticut are protected by federal laws that require employers to provide safe working conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration oversees this aspect of the law, but the agency has seen a potentially troublesome reduction in staff since President Trump took office.
After Trump became president, OSHA lost 40 inspectors through attrition. As of October 2, 2017, none of those vacancies was filled. Trump vowed to reduce federal bureaucracy, and some say the reduced OSHA staff is partly due to that. OSHA is not the only federal agency with unfilled vacancies under the current administration, but it says that it needs more staff to be able to keep America’s workplaces safe.
Though OSHA has hired some inspectors since early October, it hasn’t been an easy task. Trump imposed a hiring freeze after taking office and planned to reduce the federal workforce through attrition. While some say this will reduce waste in government while keeping agencies adequately staffed, others say that the OSHA staff reduction could undermine the safety of American workers.
The uncertainty of the federal budget has also contributed to reduced hiring. The biggest impact of having fewer OSHA inspectors seems to have hit smaller, regional OSHA offices. The agency does maintain that its enforcement efforts have not been changed by the reduction in staff.
OSHA enforces rules through inspections and citations and penalties levied to employers that violate safety standards. When a worker that is covered by workers’ compensation is injured on the job, he or she could file a claim without needing to prove that his or her employer was at fault. An alternative to workers’ compensation is filing a personal injury lawsuit against the employer, but this would require proving negligence. If the injury was connected to something that the employer was cited for by OSHA, that fact could be used as evidence in a personal injury case.