To guarantee safe and healthy working conditions for Americans, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established as a government agency inside the US Department of Labor in 1970 (Santos, n.d.). The goal of OSHA is to prevent work-related diseases, injuries, and fatalities by enforcing safety and health laws and educating companies and workers. OSHA has the power to conduct workplace inspections to verify that safety and health regulations are being followed and to cite and penalize companies that do not comply. Employers can also challenge OSHA violations and ask for a formal hearing or an informal conference. Employees who disclose safety and health issues are likewise protected as whistleblowers under OSHA.
OSHA is in charge of safeguarding the safety and health of employees in the United States. The agency has authority over the medical field, which includes hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare institutions. It is responsible for establishing and enforcing workplace safety standards, including those unique to the medical field. These include standards for the safe handling of hazardous materials, emergency preparedness, and infection control. Therefore, employers in the medical field are obligated to comply with OSHA laws. They are responsible for creating a safe and healthy working environment for their staff members under OSHA guidelines (Santos, n.d.). OSHA has the authority to conduct inspections and impose fines for any breaches discovered if compliance standards are not met.
Construction, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail are just a few areas for which OSHA sets and enforces safety and health regulations. OSHA standards, for instance, mandate the use of personal safety equipment, machine guarding, fall protection, and the labeling and storage of hazardous items in production (Rothstein, 2020).
OSHA’s outreach programs are a primary means of communication with employers and their employees. These programs aim to ensure that employers and employees have a firm grasp on their respective legal obligations and protections under OSHA rules by providing training and education on safety and health dangers and how to avoid them. Small and medium-sized firms may benefit from OSHA’s advisory services in several ways, including being better prepared for an inspection and reducing the likelihood of serious violations. OSHA also has a mechanism to safeguard employees who report safety violations. Workers who report safety and health issues or take part in OSHA inspections or other processes are safeguarded by this program. Workers who experience retaliation may report it to OSHA, which will investigate.
In addition to its efforts in outreach and enforcement, OSHA offers several materials to assist companies as well as workers in understanding safety and health standards and complying with them (Rosner & Markowitz, 2020). Publications, online courses, and webinars covering a diverse assortment of subjects are all included in these resources. Consequently, OSHA operates a website that gives users access to a wide variety of information, including a database that allows users to search for OSHA guidelines and recommendations.
General Industry Standards and Construction Standards are the two classifications of the OSHA standards. While Construction Standards apply to construction sites and associated activities, General Industry Standards apply to most private sector workplaces. The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard is one of the requirements, and it calls for companies to take precautions against bloodborne pathogens, including HIV and hepatitis B (Fairfax, 2020).
The Hazard Communication Standard, which calls on employers to mark containers of hazardous chemicals and to advise workers about the dangers of using them in the workplace, is another regulation that falls under this category. Besides, under the Respiratory Protection Standard, businesses must provide workers with respirators to prevent them from breathing dangerous compounds (Rothstein, 2020). Lastly, the Fall Protection Standard mandates that companies take precautions to safeguard workers against falls from heights of at least four feet in the construction business and at least six feet in all other industries.
Besides these standards, OSHA has several guidelines and regulations specific to certain industries. Some of these industries include maritime and shipyard employment, longshoring and marine terminals (Park et al., 2020). Other industries include chemical manufacturing and processing plants, mining and drilling operations, and drilling operations. Notably, OSHA’s Marine Terminal, Longshoring, and Gear Certification Standards govern the marine and shipyard employment sectors. These regulations cover potential dangers like falls, hazardous chemicals, crane and rigging operations, and other similar activities. For instance, the requirements mandate that businesses supply their workers working at heights with personal protective equipment such as hard hats, safety glasses, and other apparatus designed to prevent falls. Also, they mandate that businesses offer their staff training on the potential dangers of working in an environment such as a shipyard or maritime port.
The chemical manufacturing and processing facilities industries are subject to OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) and Risk Management Program (RMP) standards. Both of these standards control workplace safety. These regulations are intended to reduce the risk of chemical spills, explosions, and fires (Michaels & Wagner, 2020). For instance, the PSM standard requires companies to establish and execute processes for controlling risks associated with highly hazardous chemicals and to give employee training on these procedures. Again, employers are required to deliver this training to their employees. Businesses are required to establish and execute a risk management program under the RMP standard. This program must include emergency response and planning processes, and employers must also provide OSHA with information on the program.
OSHA has rules for metal and nonmetal mining and oil and gas extraction, and these standards are enforced in the drilling and mining industries. These guidelines cover dangers such as trips and falls, as well as those posed by electrical systems and dangerous items. Under the standards, employers that have workers doing tasks at heights must provide fall protection equipment to such workers, such as safety gear and guardrails. In addition, companies are required to give their staff training on the potential dangers involved with drilling and mining activities.
Lastly, OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) program encourages firms to go above and beyond the bare minimum of OSHA requirements and set up a thorough health and safety management system (Park et al., 2020). Employers that have successfully implemented safety and health initiatives attained a high level of employee engagement and maintained a low accident and sickness rate are recognized by the VPP. Employers participating in the VPP may get on-site technical help, be excused from scheduled inspections, and earn other advantages.
In conclusion, OSHA is a federal organization established to provide Americans with safe and healthy working conditions. OSHA can conduct workplace inspections, enforce health and safety regulations, and levy penalties and citations for infractions. To assist employers and employees in understanding and following safety and health requirements, OSHA offers information, education, outreach, advisory services, and whistleblower protection. OSHA aims to prevent work-related illnesses, injuries, and fatalities by enforcing safety and health laws and educating businesses and workers.
Fairfax, R. E. (2020). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Impact on Employers: What Worked and Where to Go From Here. American Journal of Public Health, 110(5), 644–645.
Michaels, D., & Wagner, G. R. (2020). Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and worker safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jama, 324(14), 1389-1390.
Park, S., Johnson, M. D., & Hong, O. (2020). Analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) noise standard violations over 50 years: 1972 to 2019. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 63(7), 616–623.
Rosner, D., & Markowitz, G. (2020). A short history of occupational safety and health in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 110(5), 622-628.
Rothstein, M. A. (2020). The Occupational Safety and Health Act at 50: Introduction to the special section. American journal of public health, 110(5), 613-614.
Santos, G. M. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration-a Brief Description of OSHA.