The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently conducted an inspection at Boston's Logan Airport. That inspection resulted in 14 health and safety violations against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The inspection highlighted the fact that government employees are at risk for having a work accident just as employees in any private sector organization.
Federal agencies such as the TSA are not exempt from OSHA standards. Executive Order 12196 requires federal agencies to adhere to safety standards as is required by the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The only difference is that OSHA does not have the power to suggest monetary fines to other government agencies that are not in compliance with OSHA standards.
The violations found in Boston ranged from risks of falling to the improper storage of hazardous chemicals. Injuries are possible from corrosive chemicals, defective ladders, unguarded "nip points" on conveyors that carry baggage, risk of electrocution and the risk of being burned by improperly stored materials that are flammable. At least five other airports have been found to have similar safety and health hazards.
Just because an employer is a federal agency that does not mean that the obligation to ensure the health and safety of its employees disappears. Regardless of the job, there is always the risk of a work accident occurring. Without the proper safety and health procedures, equipment and training, it is only a matter of time before an employee gets injured. Hopefully, the TSA will set a good example for private employers by correcting the deficiencies found by OSHA in a timely manner.
Source: workerscompensation.com, OSHA Cites TSA, No author, Aug. 22, 2013