The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's purpose is to reduce injuries by creating safety standards for the workplace and responding to complaints from employees. OSHA has the power to inspect a workplace for safety violations and to impose fines if they are not corrected. It also protects whistle-blowers from retaliation by their employers.
Benefits to the Employee
OSHA benefits employees by making the workplace safer and reducing injury rates. OSHA safety rules require employers to keep the workplace free of any known hazards. Employers covered by OSHA must follow specific guidelines depending on the job. For instance, a company might be required to install protection against falls, or provide protective gear for workers who must handle dangerous substances.
OSHA inspections reduce on-the-job injuries by identifying and correcting potential hazards. Workplace injuries decrease by an average of 9.4 percent in the four years following an inspection, according to the OSHA website. Inspections resulting in fines can have even more dramatic results. One study found a decrease in the injury rate of between 19 and 24 percent per year for some mid-sized employers in the two years after an OSHA inspection that resulted in a fine.
OSHA also benefits employees by protecting their rights. Employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees who file a complaint or request an OSHA inspection.
Benefits to Business
Fewer on-the-job-injuries can mean lower costs, increased productivity and higher profits for the employer according to OSHA.
The average employer inspected by OSHA in 2011 saved $355,000 in the next four years due to lower injury rates according to a post by Dr. David Michaels the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. Businesses that were inspected benefited from a 26 percent drop in workers' compensation costs in the four years after the inspection. The same study found no evidence of job losses from OSHA inspection or enforcement activities and no evidence of reduced profits. On the contrary, OSHA inspections were found to have saved employers in the United States between $6 billion and $20 billion dollars, according to a workplace study reported by the Harvard Business School.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Workers
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Business Case for Safety and Health
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: OSHA Saves Lives and Jobs
- Harvard Business School: New Study Shows That Workplace Inspections Save Lives, Don’t Destroy Jobs