Prosecuting Worker Endangerment: The Need for Stronger Criminal Penalties for Violations of the OSH Act
Jeffrey F. Liss Professor from Practice and Director, Environmental Law and Policy Program, University of Michigan Law School
ACS is pleased to distribute an Issue Brief by David M. Uhlmann, the Jeffrey F. Liss Professor from Practice and the Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program at the University of Michigan Law School, entitled Prosecuting Worker Endangerment: The Need for Stronger Criminal Penalties for Violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. In this Issue Brief, Professor Uhlmann examines the need for stronger penalties for violators of the worker safety laws. Professor Uhlmann observes, "[a]pproximately 6000 workers are killed on the job each year " and thousands more suffer grievous injuries "yet penalties for worker safety violations remain appallingly small, and criminal prosecutions are almost non-existent." Professor Uhlmann explains that prosecution under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the "OSH Act") is rare because the Act's substantive criminal provisions are "limited to (1) willful violations of worker safety regulations that (2) result in worker death." Further, even when criminal provisions apply, the crime is only a Class B misdemeanor, which, according to the author, provides little incentive for prosecutors and law enforcement personnel who often have to reserve their limited resources for felonies. The author concludes by recommending that Congress pass legislation to strengthen the criminal provisions of the worker safety laws, which would allow our nation to "make good on the promise of a safe workplace made 30 years ago when Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act." As Professor Uhlmann reminds readers, "everyone deserves a safe place to work and the ability to come home to their families in good health each night."
Read the full Issue Brief here: Uhlmann_issue_brief
By David M. Uhlmann