EVERYDAY millions of Americans go to work with the expectation that they will return home unharmed. However, this is not the case for everyone. In 2001, there were 5,900 worker-related deaths and 5.2 million injuries and illnesses according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate for 2001 fatalities, injuries, and illnesses was the lowest since the bureau began collecting this information in the early 1970s, but the rates, most scholars agree, are still unacceptably high. Many of these cases are caused by egregious and willful safety violations. It is very rare for employers to be held criminally liable, let alone be imprisoned, for violation of state and federal safety laws.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is the main federal regulatory agency charged with ...

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