CHAPTER 8 SUMMARY • • • • • The Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted by Congress in response to the large number of workplace deaths, diseases, and injuries occurring in the United States every year. Scholars and critics disagree about how effective the OSH Act has been in reducing or preventing such occurrences. The OSH Act empowers the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to promulgate rules and set standards for workplace safety. These rules are subject to challenge in our federal courts. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also empowered to enforce the law and the regulations by means of workplace inspections and citations. Its agents are not required to meet the same strict search warrant requirements imposed upon police officers by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, while OSHA’s jurisdiction can sometimes become entangled with that of other agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard, recent case law suggests that in this post-9/11 world of heightened health and safety concerns, the U.S. Supreme Court is prepared to allow OSHA a substantial amount of leverage in conducting inspections and enforcing the OSH Act and its implementing regulations. Not only is OSHA’s jurisdiction over workplace safety not exclusive, but in some major areas— workplace smoking being a very significant one—private litigation has played a significant role in securing employee rights and recompensing employee injuries. Most recently, Big Tobacco has been the target of “secondhand smoke” lawsuits by employees, such as airline attendants, who claim to have been harmed by the necessity of working in closely confined workspaces where secondhand smoke has been present daily. The U.S. Supreme Court in May 2003 agreed to review the $1.4 million judgment in one the most significant of these lawsuits. Another emerging area of OSHA concern is workplace violence, a complicated issue that implicates multiple government agencies, professions, and causes. Here, too, the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the anthrax crisis that followed have led many corporations to develop policies and procedures for dealing with a wide range of health and safety threats that might come from within as well as from outside their workplaces, including in the case of many larger corporations and organizations detailed work site evacuation plans.