What are workplace safety requirements?

There are hundreds of standards and regulations that have been developed to improve safety in the workplace. All over the world there are different governmental agencies, institutions, and organizations who work to develop these standards and regulations. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the agency who sets workplace safety requirements for companies in America.

OSH Act of 1970

The most well-known, and arguably most important, requirement published in the United States is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act). This is a United States labor law that sets forth laws protecting workers in the private sector and federal government. Congress declared when passing the act, that its intent is to “assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources." Highlights of this act are still fundamental to OSHA like the general duty clause, the whistleblower protection, and reporting requirements. OSHA focuses on mechanical hazards, chemical hazards, toxic substances, fall hazards, fire and explosion dangers, machine hazards, confined spaces, hazards associated with trenches and digging, and harmful physical agents.

OSHA requires employers to “provide their employees with a workplace that does not have serious hazards and must follow all OSHA safety and health standards.” Employers are also obligated to:

  • Inform workers about hazards through trainings, safety labels and signs, alarms, color-coded systems, SDS’s and other appropriate methods.
  • Train workers in a language and vocabulary they can understand.
  • Display the OSHA poster where everyone can see.
  • Provide hearing exams and medical tests.

Just to name a few! OSHA also sets safety stands and requirements for visual communication, lockout/tagout, chemical labeling, fall protection, and so much more. In a number of instances, OSHA works with or refers to other institutions, like the National Fire Protection Association or the American National Standards Institute, for standards or best practices.


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