OSHA is an acronym for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a governmental agency part of the United States Department of Labor. The agency was established under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, an act signed into law by President Nixon in 1970. The majority of private sector and employers are covered by the OSHA act, as well as a number of public sector employers and workers in the 50 states and certain territories and jurisdictions under federal authority (such as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, etc.).
Under OSHA law, employers have the responsibility and obligation to provide a safe workplace. This includes providing workers with a workplace that does not have serious hazards and adhering to the safety and health standards that OSHA has set forth. Employers are required to properly train employees, keep accurate records, perform tests to ensure a safe workplace, provide PPE at no cost to the worker, provide medical tests when required by standards, post OSHA citations annually, notify OSHA of fatalities and injuries, and not retaliate or discriminate against a worker. These are just an outline of obligations, for more information on employer responsibilities, check out OSHA’s requirements.
Workers on the other hand are guaranteed to rights. These rights include working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm, the right to file a confidential compliant complaint, receive information and training, receive copies of test results, participate in an OSHA inspection, and file a complaint if retaliated against. For more information on the rights workers are guaranteed to, take a look at OSHA’s Worker Rights and Protection webpage.
OSHA has set forth several standards regarding the safety of a facility, and they enforce these standards with inspections. Compliance Safety and Health Officers carry out these inspections and assess for regularity violations that may result in fines. OSHA uses inspections to enforce regulations in an effort to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Although most are planned ahead of time, it is important to be prepared for a surprise OSHA inspection.
- How does OSHA affect a business?
- Who is OSHA meant to protect?
- What OSHA posters are required?
- Are OSHA regulations considered the law?
- How does OSHA work?
- What does it mean to be OSHA compliant?