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My father was a senior executive for Fireman's Fund Insurance Cos. based in San Francisco. At that time FF was the second largest marine and casualty underwriter in the world after Lloyd's of London.

He was head of engineering and inspections for all business liability policies from the Mississippi to the Atlantic and from the Canadian border south to the Mason-Dixon Line if my memory is accurate. His office was in Pittsburgh and he lived on airplanes and in the company car. He took each of his three children on two trips each summer starting when we were 6 or 7. I fondly remember walking across the tarmac in rain, sleet and sunshine

He was responsible for the men (it was the 1950s and 60s) who verified that the escalators in department stores in Cleveland were safe and that Westinghouse Electric's nuclear research and manufacturing facilities in outside Pittsburgh and Louisville were safe. He hired an outside contractor he knew from Carnegie Tech who later become #2 at OSHA for that task and Nixon's AE adviser. I should acknowledge he was a family friend. There were grain silos and steel mills in Buffalo and many other businesses, manufacturing plants, etc. to be inspected and many safety issues remedied.

FF had a rule that each insured facilities had to be inspected at least once a year and in some cases more often.  FF did not insure coal mines or certain other risks. The workplace and communities might be safer if OSHA was closed and the insurance companies were responsible for the inspections. I guess the Chamber of Commerce would lobby each state legislature to eliminate insurance liability requirements.  

It seems apparent that OSHA will never have the resources for thorough and timely inspections or the political will to impose the stiff fines to insure compliance. Let's give the Tea Party, its Republican allies, the business community and President Obama what they want; disband OSHA and return all safety responsibilities to each business.

I suspect that this move will be applauded by many in the business community. More farsighted business people will be horrified by such a prospect. Why?

Insurance companies will need to create and staff departments to set safety standards, complete compliance inspections, etc. Business liability insurance will become a nightmare for senior management. Some insurance companies will no longer write business liability policies. The remaining companies will dramatically increase their rates.

The safety standard for convenience stores will vary based upon its insurance carrier, same for shopping centers, gas stations, slaughterhouses, etc.  

Class actions against businesses will skyrocket as will the fees paid to expert witnesses about safety standards. Consumer prices will rise accordingly. The stock market will not react well to these events.

This is the case for funding OSHA properly. A move President Obama and his Republican allies in Congress oppose.

President Obama has never requested a budget increase for OSHA. Cuts, cuts, cuts. Whoever said Obama was hostile to business?

Can you guess the legislative genesis of OSHA?

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