Question: An issue of the journal Occupational Hazards presented some information
An issue of the journal Occupational Hazards presented some information about what happens when OSHA refers criminal complaints about willful violations of OSHA standards to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Between 1982 and 2002, OSHA referred 119 fatal cases allegedly involving willful violations of OSHA to DOJ for criminal prosecution. The DOJ declined to pursue 57 percent of them, and some were dropped for other reasons. Of the remaining 51 cases, the DOJ settled 63 percent with pretrial settlements involving no prison time. So, counting acquittals, of the 119 cases OSHA referred to the DOJ, only nine resulted in prison time for at least one of the defendants. “The Department of Justice is a disgrace,” charged the founder of an organization for family members of workers killed on the job. One possible explanation for this low conviction rate is that the crime in cases such as these is generally a misdemeanor, not a felony, and the DOJ generally tries to focus its attention on felony cases. Given this information, what implications do you think this has for how employers and their managers should manage their safety programs, and why do you take that position?
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