Keeping up with safety regulations and compliance is a key responsibility of any organization. That is why OSHA – the Occupational Health and Safety Administration – must be part of your safety strategy. Let’s explore further insights into its mission and some of its focused areas.
What is OSHA? What Does OSHA Stand for?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is known as OSHA. Established in 1970 by the U.S. Congress under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), OSHA is responsible for regulations and standards regarding workplace health and safety. It is a U.S. federal agency under the Department of Labor (DOL).
What Does OSHA Do?
OSHA’s purpose is to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing outreach, information, and support. However, OSHA isn’t in charge of the entire U.S. workforce. Agencies that existed before OSHA are responsible for protecting some workers, such as miners. In other situations, it makes more sense for a sector-specific organization to take on the responsibility of regulating worker safety and health because it requires particular tools or knowledge. They also have no authority over certain employees.
What Industries Do OSHA Regulations Apply to?
Most private-sector companies must comply with OSHA or a state agency under OSHA’s supervision in the following areas:
- All 50 states
- Washington, DC
- All U.S. territories
- The outer continental shelf lands
Federal personnel and agencies are also subject to OSHA regulations. Additionally, there is an OSHA-approved State Plan that safeguards everyone working for state, territorial, and local governments in 26 states and two territories.
However, there are some industries and employees that OSHA does not cover:
- Self-Employed Individuals
- Public-Sector Personnel in Places Without a State Plan
- Farm Employers’ Immediate Family Members
Finally, OSHA plays a limited role in any industry regulated by other government agencies, including:
- Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
- U.S. Coast Guard
- U.S. Department of Energy
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
How Does OSHA Work?
It’s a tremendous task to safeguard a sizable and diversified workforce against risks to their health and safety. OSHA accomplishes this via a variety of strategies.
Workplace Safety Standards
To eliminate or reduce risks to worker health and safety, OSHA develops regulations.
OSHA requires that a state plan must be “at least as effective” as federal standards. If a state or territory would like to create and implement its own workplace safety laws, they are given control over funding and enforcement upon approval. The federal agency retains oversight while the state takes care of the daily operations.
Occupational Safety Training
OSHA mandates that companies give safety training to all employees in a language and vocabulary they can understand. This is required by various standards, with some standards specifically calling for training. However, there is also a basic obligation that employers instruct their employees in anything they need to know to safely perform their jobs.
Any employee who is subject to OSHA’s authority is permitted to make an anonymous safety and health complaint against their company. In addition to OSHA handling the investigation, complainants are given whistleblower protections. Your employer is not permitted to penalize you for filing a suspected safety or health violation. Furthermore, OSHA’s list of actions that constitute retaliation is very comprehensive.
OSHA routinely performs on-site safety and health inspections of workplaces with high-risk factors for injury and illness as well as companies with a history of inadequate safety practices. Additionally, they inspect workplaces with worker complaints, reported illnesses and injuries, and referrals from other agencies or groups.
Safety Standard Enforcement
OSHA issues a citation, frequently with a fine, and sets a deadline for remedying the situation when an investigation or inspection identifies a violation of the requirements. In cases where the violation poses a serious risk, they may close down a job site.
Tracking Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
Employers are required by OSHA to notify the organization right away of any major injuries or illnesses. Additionally, employers are required to keep records of smaller incidents for inspection purposes.
The Impact of Better Workplace Safety
According to the OSH Act’s proponent, who testified during its adoption, between 1945 and 1970, more than 400,000 Americans died from illnesses and accidents related to their jobs, while almost 50 million sustained disabling injuries. Furthermore, the issue was escalating. According to estimates from legislators, the number of disabling injuries grew by 20% during the 1960s.
The impact of greater workplace safety in the 50 years after the passage of the OSH Act includes:
- Work-related Deaths Decreased by 83%
- In 1970, 38 workers died per day out of a 56 million-person workforce.
- In 2019, 15 workers died per day out of a 130 million-person workforce.
- Non-fatal Injuries and Illnesses Decreased by 75%.
- In 1972, for every 100 workers, there were 10.9 non-fatal injuries and illnesses.
- In 2020, for every 100 workers, there were 2.7 non-fatal injuries and illnesses.
While being the subject of an OSHA audit is stressful, the support of fully-integrated maintenance management, lubrication management, and safety management software can help you ensure you’re always prepared. After all, the better organized your records are, the less time you have to spend stressing about audit preparations.