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Indiana OSHA Gets Dismal Report Card

Indiana OSHA Gets Dismal Report Card

Indiana is not the safest place to work. That’s according to a federal investigation which found that Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) mishandled complaints, inhibited investigations and discouraged whistle-blowers.

And workplace safety experts say the litany of problems documented in the federal investigators’ 19-page report could put the health and safety of Indiana workers at risk.

Part of the negative safety record is due to decisions made by IOSHA, including decisions to:

  • Implement inspection quotas that deterred complex investigations.
  • Forgo inspection of the Sensient Flavors plant after an employee was shocked and hospitalized.
  • Forgo investigation of an explosion at Indianapolis Power & Light in March 2013.
  • Take four times longer than allowed to initiate inspections.
  • Maintain a backlog of nearly 100 unprocessed complaints, some up to six weeks old. (The state should respond in 30 days.)
  • Forgo informing whistle-blowers about their right to appeal.
  • Allow employers to use an IOSHA rule to stall investigations so complaints get dismissed.
  • Ignore reports of employees being told to accept an employer’s settlement or IOSHA would drop their cases.

According to Bob Dittmer — a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Labor, which houses IOSHA — the agency has already addressed all but two of the federal OSHA’s 22 recommendations.

He adds that all recommendations outlined in the report apply to administrative procedures and have no effect on the health and safety of Hoosiers.

A former assistant regional administrator for federal OSHA, whose responsibilities including overseeing state OSHA plans, noted that if people are afraid to complain, accidents are more likely to occur.

And Frank Rosenthal, an occupational and environmental health professor at Purdue University, said that because of staffing issues at many workplace safety agencies, complaints often function as OSHA’s “eyes and ears.”

It is vital that injured workers and the families of workers killed in construction accidents contact experienced construction lawyers immediately, so that evidence can be preserved and the party at fault can be held accountable.

Starr Austen Miller LLP has experienced construction accident and wrongful death attorneys.

Source: Indianapolis Star