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Go, Walmart!

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That's a great story. And, btw, OSHA has had no positive effect on safety in the work place. A guy studied the numbers several years ago and wrote a book showing how there had been no significant reduction in work place deaths or injuries with OSHA. But it certainly has added tons of red tape and costs. Sorry, I don't recall the title of the book or the name of the author.

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I used to work at Wal-Mart (and am applying to work there again since I need a more stable job), and I got to experience firsthand how stupid OSHA is.

While unloading trucks, the way our pallets were lined up, we had to step onto the pallet to stack them up well. (Starting in the back of the pallet and moving forward.) Then Wal-Mart got told by OSHA that its workers are not allowed to walk on pallets due to some safety regulation, and that they could be fined hundreds-of-thousands of dollars if an OSHA inspector caught one of us walking on a pallet.

This regulation made my job less safe and less efficient. Our pallets were lined up such that there was a rail between every two pallets. And not getting to walk on them meant awkwardly walking toe-to-toe between them or between a pallet and a rail thing, most of the time carrying heavy boxes. Following OSHA's rules meant that I was more likely to lose my balance and break my ankle between two pallets.

All of my co-workers agreed. OSHA made our job less safe and harder to do.

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Besides the standard government regulation "badness" of red tape, lower production, and general annoyance, in my opinion the worst offense attributable to OSHA is a "regulation attitude" instead of a "safety (or smart) attitude." That is, regulation will keep us safe instead of actual smarts and actual awareness. In my workplace, the Safety Lady is especially loud and annoying, and seems to believe in OSHA. In turn, although smarts and awareness win out in general during all daily activity of workers (they must... people would literally get smashed up by machines if they followed OSHA completely), it is always through a filter of at least worrying about the regulation first and then deciding the course of action. At worst it is actually relying on the regulation and suffering an injury or damaging product. Also, another side effect is using OSHA as an excuse to be lazy -- and unfortunately, there are a lot of lesser persons who do this every day, and management will not fight an OSHA-related excuse for unacceptable production.

I hate OSHA and try to ignore it. However, so that I don't get fired, I, too, have an OSHA filter. But mine includes a volume of generic excuses for supposed OSHA rule-breaking, mixed with claims of ignorance. I am 100% sure that my superior productivity is in part because I do not actively worry about OSHA.

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So what happens when someone gets hurt following an OSHA standard, such as Amaroq mentioned? My first thought is that OSHA will try to make another regulation of a regulation, but what happens when a company with some muscle (Wal-Mart) pushes back? It will be interesting to see.

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