Key findings from 'Unequal risk' day 3

Key findings:

  • After 44 years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is still searching for ways to protect workers against fumes, vapors, dusts, fibers and liquids that can kill or incapacitate them.
  • OSHA was vilified from the day it opened its doors in 1971, its inspectors likened to “the Gestapo” and its rules mocked.
  • OSHA’s most productive period for regulating toxics came during the Carter administration in the late 1970s, when it issued standards for substances such as lead, benzene and cotton dust.
  • OSHA’s progress on health hazards slowed after Ronald Reagan was elected on an anti-regulatory platform in 1980. Some believe the agency never recovered from the loss of momentum.
  • An OSHA rule that set or tightened nearly 400 chemical exposure limits at one time was nullified by a court decision in 1992. Nothing like it has been tried since.