The Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed into law on Dec. 29, 1970 by President Richard Nixon. OSHA helps companies protect their employees and reduce workplace related illnesses, injuries and deaths. OSHA has been credited with decreasing the number of workplace fatalities by more than 65 percent since 1970.
Providing Employees Peace of Mind
OSHA provides employees with the right to a safe workplace by giving them information on hazardous chemicals and the necessary ability to present safety concerns to management without any fear of discrimination or termination. Workers also have the opportunity to report safety violations directly to the agency while staying anonymous from employers.
Inspections are meant to ensure that companies are providing a safe workplace for employees. The agency can issue citations and fines to companies that are violating safety guidelines. Inspections usually occur on a regular basis, but can also happen after an accident or due to an employee complaint.
OSHA must draft regulations, investigate and enforce penalties against violators. Most regulations apply to all industries like, for example, regulations regarding the obligation to provide fire safety and employee evacuation plans in case of an emergency, applies to all employers. These kinds of rules address emergency exits and how to conduct emergency drills.
OSHA also provides regulation to certain industries that have specific needs. Construction industries as well as maritime industries are heavily regulated, because those industries have more hazards and hazardous conditions than the average workplace. These rules also regulate industries that include a greater number of hazards to the public, like agriculture and food production.
State OSHA offices have their own enforcement standards specific to that state, in addition to national regulation. In 2014, some states, but not all, adopted new standards regarding operations of cranes or derricks.