Indiana Attorney Says Recent Federal Agency Report on IOSHA Shows Worker Safety Is Not a Priority in the State

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Mike Stephenson of McNeely Stephenson, whose practice includes the representation of those hurt in the workplace, says that Indiana’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) shows a lack of progress in meeting performance goals, thus hurting worker safety. His comments are regarding a recent federal report on IOSHA.

Indiana Attorney Mike Stephenson

Injury lawyer Mike Stephenson commented today on a new federal report that indicates the Indiana agency monitoring workplace safety, IOSHA, has problems that could put Hoosier workers at risk.

“Indiana’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is one of the lowest-funded state OSHAs in the U.S.,” noted Stephenson. “It has suffered from insufficient staffing for years. IOSHA’s problems actually became bad enough to trigger a federal investigation.”

Recently the federal OSHA stated, in a follow-up report, that certain issues still persist in Indiana. Little progress has been made, with some situations having grown worse than they were before. Federal findings include a shortage of staff, a lack of completed inspections, slow responses to complaints, a failure to identify workplace hazards, and not enough citations issued for dangerous workplaces.

The two people who are in charge of IOSHA—Indiana Labor Commissioner Rick Ruble and Deputy Commissioner for IOSHA Tim Maley—have not responded publicly to the report. Amanda Staley, their spokeswoman, stated via email that IOSHA “is continually working to improve its performance for the benefit of Hoosier workers.”

“Our state has 38 inspectors when it should have 70. IOSHA took 14 times longer to investigate complaints than the national average, 72 days as opposed to five,” Stephenson commented. “Safety inspections resulted in citations only one-third of the time, versus the national rate of over twice that.”

Stephenson continued, “On top of that, photos that revealed genuine evidence of workplace hazards, such as amputations, electrical shock, and falls, did not result in citations for apparent workplace violations in numerous case files. This is a shocking situation that demonstrates a years-long, blatant disregard for the health and safety of hard-working Hoosier men and women. I personally am outraged. How many more workers must be injured or maimed before we fix these problems and adequately protect our workers?”

It has been pointed out that a lack of funding could be the root of the problem. The workplace safety funding per Indiana worker is the next-to-lowest among the 21 states with their own OSHA programs. In most of the other states, the federal OSHA is responsible for workplace inspections.

“Our state’s worker fatality rate is the 14th worst in the nation,” attorney Stephenson noted. “We owe it to the taxpaying citizens of Indiana, and to their families, to better shield workers from dangerous workplaces.”

Mike Stephenson, a personal injury lawyer with McNeely Stephenson of Shelbyville, Indiana, near Indianapolis, has been successfully litigating injury cases in Indiana since 1981. He can be reached at 1-855-206-2555.

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