What agency of government is OSHA in?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a regulatory agency of the United States Department of Labor, a cabinet-level department of the federal government headed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. Their mission, as when signed into law, is to "assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance."

History of OSHA

OSHA was created by congress with the passing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Prior to that, only some work safety issues were being addressed by the Bureau of Labor Standards in the Labor Department. After the OSH Act when into effect in 1971, OSHA was officially established. In the coming years the agency would introduce the OSHA Training Institute (1972), a grant-making program (1978), and the Voluntary Protection Programs (1982).

What does OSHA do?

OSHA works to achieve its mission in a number of ways:

  • Health & safety standards: OSHA has the federal authority to develop and issue health and safety regulations. Their standards for Construction, General Industry, Maritime, and Agriculture cover a wide range of serious hazards and how to control them.
  • Record keeping requirements: Employers in certain high hazard industries are required to document and prepare records of serious injuries or illnesses. Other industries must use OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301 to record serious occupational injuries and illnesses.
  • Enforcement: OSHA enforces its health and safety standards through inspections. Compliance and safety officers show up to a workplace (often unannounced) to assess fines for regulatory violations.
  • Whistleblower protection: Workers that report workplace safety violations are granted protection by the federal agency from retaliation.
  • Compliance assistance resources: Since its inception, OSHA has been dedicated to providing employers with training programs, compliance assistance, and resources for small businesses.

OSHA's Jurisdiction

  • All federal agencies and virtually all employees are covered by OSHA protections either directly or through an OSHA-approved state plan. The exception to the OSH Act however include those who are self-employed, immediate family members of farm employers, or workplace hazards that are regulated by another federal agency—mine hazards for instance are addressed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Currently, there are 22 states with OSHA-approved state programs that are monitored by the federal OSHA.

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