For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost.For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost.For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.OSHA exists because [some] employers/people prefer to ‘save money and time’ over saving lives. They probably wouldn’t be quite so intrusive if so-called working conditions were reasonable in the first place. But for centuries, owners and employers seemed to view workers as the most expendable cost item. It they got injured or died on the job, it was just bad luck. But then, the idea of health insurance as an employment incentive seridipitously popped up. The 1942 Stabilization Act was passed to combat inflation by limiting employers’ freedom to raise wages. In response, and in order to compete for scarce workers, employers began to offer health benefits as incentives. Because health benefits could be considered part of compensation, but did not count as income, workers did not have to pay income tax or payroll taxes on those benefits. By 1943, employers started making health insurance arrangements for their workers, and the modern era of employer-sponsored health insurance began. And, since workers’ health was now tied to their employment, on-the-job and because-of-the-job health issues became much more important to employers. But not so much that much was done. In 1969, the OSHA bill was introduced in Congress and Rep Steiger reported that during the last 25 years, “more than 400,000 Americans were killed by work-related accidents and disease, and close to 50 million more suffered disabling injuries on the job. . . Not only has this resulted in incalculable pain and suffering for workers and their families, but such injuries have cost billions of dollars in lost wages and production.” Not just workers, but money. Nixon signed the bill in 1970.
Gary Brookins and Susie MacNelly
June 10, 2017
May 20, 2021