Friday, November 18, 2011

OSHA: The Death of Common Sense and Then Some...

Imagine for a moment that someone with a great reputation like Mother Theresa comes into your community and wants to renovate several dilapidated buildings to house the homeless. In effect, get the homeless off the street and help turn their lives around. Wouldn't you think that your city would pull out all the stops to help make this happen?

Well, if you're New York City, and if the person that came to town was Mother Theresa, you'd be WRONG!

Phillip Howard in his book, "The Death of Common Sense" talks of a charitable fund run by the organization with which Mother Theresa was involved. They bought a number of dilapidated structures from the city of New York and sought to renovate them for the homeless. However, when it came time to open them, the city decided that the three-story structures required the installation of elevators at $100,000 per building. The charity did not have the funds to install the elevators and so the homeless were denied clean, warm housing in the interests of not forcing them to endure the evils of walking up a flight of stairs.

In "The Death of Common Sense," Howard talks at length of one firm which has now accepted the fines levied by OSHA as an expense of doing business since it is not humanly possible to comply with all of the requirements. In order to protect its workers, it instead implemented a "Safety First" campaign of its own imploring common sense while OSHA inspectors chose to concentrate on tape measures showing banisters to be installed at 44" from the floor rather than the 48" required by law.

There are tales of OSHA determining that bricks are a hazardous substance -- not because someone might hit you over the head with one, but because if one is sawed in half, the dust particles might be inhaled.

OSHA imposes an incredible paperwork burden on U.S. business. In 1994, seven of the top ten most frequent OSHA citations were related to paperwork. OSHA has perfected the government “make-work” scheme—generate a paper blizzard of regulations and then fine businesses for not complying.

OSHA had cited small businesses for neglecting to consider as "hazardous" such substances as sand, gravel, dishwashing liquid, liquid paper, water, and oxygen. A small businessman in Florida, for example, was cited for failing to place a "Do Not Drink" warning on a bottle of dishwashing liquid. And an Indiana contractor was "astonished" when he learned that he was to receive a citation for falling to list a common household window cleaner on his MSDS.

Here are a few examples of stupid OSHA regulations:
  • Plastic gas cans can be used on manufacturing work sites, but not on construction sites, even if they have been approved by local fire marshals.
  • OSHA only allows for radiation signs with purple letters on a yellow background, while the Department of Transportation calls for black on yellow.
  • OSHA requires that work-site first-aid kits be approved by a physician.
  • Dentists estimate that OSHA regulations add $10. to the teeth cleaning bill and $15-17 to the typical cavity filling. 
  • Brad Arft, director of training for Gold Cross Ambulance Service in Appleton, Wisconsin, notes that while these and other new requirements may not add to response or treatment time, they do "add time to start patient care when the potential exists for exposure" to blood and other body fluids. And again, a record of every washing of hands and changing of rubber gloves must be kept for 30 years after the employee has left the company. Failure to comply with that and other standards could result in a fine of up to $70,000, while any employee who violates the rules for a fourth time is subject to automatic dismissal.
The Denver Business Journal estimates that businesses spend $33 billion yearly to comply with OSHA safety standards. 

OSHA is another example of a government that is out of control where one size fits all and the government trying to protect us from any kind of risk, even if it makes it harder for businesses to stay in business.  
OSHA is punishing employer’s verses creating common sense policies that promote prevention.


  1. This entire blog seems to be written by the paragon brainwashed Foxite. Being a staunch conservative or liberal is ignorant, and blindly following a party line to it's end is wrong. You shame us.

  2. Sorry to shame you, but your ad hominem attack does not address any of the issues or examples that I set forth. BTW, none of my info came from Fox News. Obviously, you have a bias against Fox News, but my info didn't come from NPR or MSNBC either. Phillip K. Howard is a lawyer and he has been focused on this problem for over 20 yrs. It has nothing to do with conservative or liberal, although, as a liberal you probably would agree with almost everything OSHA is doing, because most liberals love government regulation to the nth-degree.
    But thanks for your comment. Next time, address the issues rather than whether or not I am brainwashed. We're ALL brainwashed--it's just a matter of choosing who is washing your brain.