The OSH Act, signed into law by President Richard Nixon in the waning days of 1970, is a real success story. In the past four decades, the number of deaths due to workplace accidents fell from 13,800 in 1970 to 5,657 in 2007. The total incidence rate of private sector occupational injuries and illnesses plummeted from 10.9 per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.9 in 2008. The decline of blue-collar industrial jobs has certainly contributed to the falling numbers of workplace fatalities and diseases, but much of the progress is due to the tougher government standards made possible by OSHA which is now celebrating its fortieth anniversary.
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