Occupational Safety and Health Act – OSHA

 Occupational Safety and Health Act – OSHA

OSHA was created “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”  The Occupational Safety and Health Act – OSHA of 1970 states in Section 5 that “each employer (1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees AND (2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.  Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.”

The Information in this article is broken down into two parts: (1) Employer Responsibilities and (2) OSHA Enforcement. Recordkeeping and Posting Requirements are also covered in another post.


Under the OSH law, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace. This is a short summary of key employer responsibilities: (Sourced from OSHA’s website)

*Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSH Act.

*Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable OSHA standards.

*Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment.

*Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.

*Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.

*Employers must provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.

*Employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must develop and implement a written hazard communication program and train employees on the hazards they are exposed to and proper precautions (and a copy of safety data sheets must be readily available). See the OSHA page on Hazard Communication.

*Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards.

*Post, at a prominent location within the workplace, the OSHA poster (or the state-plan equivalent) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.

*Report to the nearest OSHA office all work-related fatalities within 8 hours, and all work-related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations and all losses of an eye within 24 hours. Call: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742); TTY 1-877-889-5627. [Employers under federal OSHA’s jurisdiction were required to begin reporting by Jan. 1, 2015. Establishments in a state with a state-run OSHA program should contact their state plan for the implementation date].

*Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. (Note: Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain low-hazard industries are exempt from this requirement.)

*Provide employees, former employees and their representatives access to the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300). On February 1, and for three months, covered employers must post the summary of the OSHA log of injuries and illnesses (OSHA Form 300A).

*Provide access to employee medical records and exposure records to employees or their authorized representatives.

*Provide to the OSHA compliance officer the names of authorized employee representatives who may be asked to accompany the compliance officer during an inspection.

*Not discriminate against employees who exercise their rights under the Act. (Whistleblower protection)

*Post OSHA citations at or near the work area involved. Each citation must remain posted until the violation has been corrected, or for three working days, whichever is longer. Post abatement verification documents or tags.

*Correct cited violations by the deadline set in the OSHA citation and submit required abatement verification documentation.

*OSHA encourages all employers to adopt an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Injury and Illness Prevention Programs, known by a variety of names, are universal interventions that can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries and alleviate the associated financial burdens on U.S. workplaces. Many states have requirements or voluntary guidelines for workplace Injury and Illness Prevention Programs. Also, numerous employers in the United States already manage safety using Injury and Illness Prevention Programs, and we believe that all employers can and should do the same. Most successful Injury and Illness Prevention Programs are based on a common set of key elements. These include: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement. OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention Programs topics page contains more information including examples of programs and systems that have reduced workplace injuries and illnesses.


Employers with 10 or more employees are required to keep a record of serious work related injuries and illnesses using the OSHA 300 Log.  For more information on Recordkeeping, check out this article OSHA Recordkeeping & Posting


Every employer must post an OSHA notice or notices, informing employees of the protections and obligations provided for in the Act.  For more information on Posting, check out this article OSHA Recordkeeping & Posting


Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to administer the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. OSHA is part of the US Department of Labor, and the administrator for OSHA is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.  OSHA’s administrator answers to the Secretary of Labor, who is a member of the cabinet of the US President.

OSHA’s jurisdiction COVERS private sector employers. It EXCLUDES self-employed, family farm workers, and government workers (except in State Plan states). It approves and monitors 28 State plan states which cover private and public sector employees.  OSHA also assists Federal Agency Programs.

OSHA Inspections are conducted without advance notice.  The inspection can be onsite or phone/fax investigations.  The investigations and inspections are conducted by highly trained compliance officers whose priorities consist of:

*Imminent danger

*Catastrophes & fatalities

*Workers complaints & referrals

*Targeted inspections (high injury/illness rates & severe violations)

*Follow up inspections

The inspector issues citations and fines when they find OSHA violations.  OSHA must issue a citation and proposed penalty within 6 months of when the violation occurred. The citation shows the violation, the proposed penalty and the deadline to correct the violation.  Violations categories are willful, serious, other-than-serious, de Minimis, failure to abate, and repeated. Penalties can range from $7,000 for each serious violation to $70,000 for each or repeated violation.  (OSHA does have a policy for reducing policy for small businesses if the company is working in good faith.  Employers have 15 days to submit a written notice to contest the penalties assessed by OSHA.

According to OSHA, the top ten most frequently sited hazard standards across all industries are: (as of 1/5/16) OSHA’s site also provides frequently sited hazards by industry NAICS code.

Fall Protection

Hazard Communication


Respiratory Protection


Powered Industrial Trucks


Electrical, Wiring Methods

Machine Guarding

Electrical, General Requirements

Penalties for non-compliance     

It is better for any company to inform themselves about HR LAW Occupational Health and Safety – OSHA in order to avoid work related injuries, illnesses, citations and penalties.  They are all costly losses and easy-to-fix mistakes for a growing company.

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