New federal study critical of Arizona workplace safety inspectors

May 01, 2013

A new study by the federal General Accounting Office said Arizona’s workplace safety inspectors are underpaid and overworked.  That puts a lot of employees in danger of  job site accidents that could injure or kill them.

Arizona is among a few dozen states that chose to conduct its own workplace inspections instead of relying on the U.S. Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Currently the state has 18 inspectors. The state also pays the inspectors lower salaries than they can receive in the private sector.

Tom O’Connor is executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a non-profit labor advocacy group. He said Arizona inspectors also cannot keep up with the demanding workload.

“That means that workers are not protected.  Employers know that they are about as likely to see an OSHA inspector as they are to see Haley’s comet on average…once every thirty years or something," O'Connor said.

A spokesman with the Arizona Division of Safety and Health told the Cronkite News Service the agency is addressing the issues identified in the report by offering consultations and other services to employers.