OSHA turns forty this month. To mark its anniversary, the Center for American Progress hosted a public forum with David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. He joined workers, employers and union leaders to discuss the safety agency's past and future.
At the event, Assistant Secretary Michaels defended his agency. He said, "OSHA doesn't kill jobs, it stops jobs from killing workers." Michaels also said OSHA worker protections need to be strengthened. He said whistleblower protections are weak and fines are too low to change employers' behavior.
To strengthen the employee safety agency, the Obama administration proposed a $25 million increase in its 2012 budget. The new funds would support improved regulatory standards, compliance safety officers and whistleblower investigators.
However, the proposed increases face opposition from Congressional Republicans. GOP House members attempted to deny the agency $99 million for the 2011, and they continue to target it in their 2012 budget proposal.
On December 29, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law and the agency was established on April 28, 1971.