“When should we as a society paternalistically decide [that employees should be protected from] the risk of significant physical injury?” Kavanagh wrote in his dissent. Not only was this an extreme position—one few have espoused on the bench—but it completely contravenes Congress’s intent when it passed the workplace safety law more than four decades ago.
A bipartisan Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, and President Richard Nixon signed the legislation into law. It provided workers with the fundamental right to go to work and come home every day; workers should not have to sacrifice their lives for a paycheck. The law is clear that it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace.