Employers have a moral responsibility to provide a safe workplace for employees while they do their jobs. Aside from being “the right thing to do,” key employer responsibilities have been noted under the OSH Act (Occupational Safety and Health). These key responsibilities are broader than, for example, the type of PPE that must be worn in environments such as confined spaces. Think of them as guidelines for the basic needs of workers.
Then there is OSHA compliance. Becoming compliant with OSHA law means adhering to all applicable regulations that have been developed and are relevant to the unique working environment. Whether that be keeping records of injuries, to equipping workers with necessary hazard information and PPE before they enter a dangerous area.
To be OSHA compliant means operating under safe working conditions according to tested best practice methods. To be OSHA compliant means being able to send employees home safely to their families every day.
What Does OSHA Stand for?
OSHA is an acronym for the federal agency that stands for "The Occupational Safety and Health Administration." The regulations that this federal entity sets into motion are an incredibly important resource for the prevention of on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
Not only do OSHA’s regulations improve workplace safety, but they are also enforced with hefty penalties in the event a business is caught running operations dangerously.
The following is a short list of standards that must be followed by employers to keep facilities safe and reduce the number of workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths within the workforce. This list is by no means complete, but instead a list of the ten most frequently penalized regulations of 2020:
- 29 CFR 1926.501 – Fall Protection
- 29 CFR 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication Standard
- 29 CFR 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
- 29 CFR 1926.451 – Scaffolding
- 29 CFR 1926.1053 – Ladders
- 29 CFR 1910.147 – Control of Hazardous Energy
- 29 CFR 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks
- 29 CFR 1926.503 – Training Requirements for Fall Protection
- 29 CFR 1926.102 – Eye and Face Protection
- 29 CFR 1910.212 – Machinery and Machine Guarding
Again, this is not a complete list of OSHA regulations, you may find that on OSHA’s website.
Make no mistake, it is also important to research and comply with any standards related to:
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Safety Signs
- Hazard Communication
A few examples of adhering to these regulations include following the color codes OSHA has set, using the hazard symbols approved by OSHA, and purchasing industry approved PPE.
While not an OSHA requirement, the agency does encourage employers to adopt and implement an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. These programs can greatly reduce the number and severity of injuries and illnesses in the workplace.
The Consequences of Failing to Abide by Safety Requirements
Neglecting to follow established OSHA rules on industry protocol can be a costly mistake both in terms of human life and monetarily for the business operating alongside preventable hazards.
In the United States alone, the Department of Labor estimates about 2.7 non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses and 4,764 fatal work injuries in 2020. In terms of safety penalties, the average cost is about $2,500 per citation. However, that number can be much higher depending on the nature of non-compliance actions, as well as if
there has been an injury because of it.
Almost all injuries and illnesses are preventable if the established rules are followed. That said, it is in the best interest of the employer to comply with OSHA regulations.
- How does OSHA affect a business?
- What OSHA posters are required?
- What does OSHA stand for?
- How are violations reported to OSHA?
- How does OSHA work?
- Who is OSHA meant to protect?
- What happens if you violate an OSHA standard?
- How does OSHA conduct inspections?
- What is OSHA’s General Duty Clause?