The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is part of the U.S. Department of Labor and was created by Congress after the OSH Act passed in 1970. This act is enforced to ensure that employers and employees in all 50 states have safe working conditions through approved state programs or federal OSHA programs. The only people not covered by the OSH Act include self-employed individuals, employees covered under other federal agencies and family members of farm employers.
Employee Protection Objectives
The OSH Act provides protection for employees by ensuring that employers offer a work environment free of known hazards and dangers. The law was created to prevent employees from serious injuries or being killed while performing their jobs. The act gives employees the right to file a report against employers that are not in compliance with OSHA standards and feel they are being subject to dangerous or hazardous working conditions. The act also protects the employees from retaliation of employers such as firing, demoting or discriminating against them for filing complaints.
The OSHA Directorate of Training and Education provides instruction and information to employers and employees on how to ensure safe work environments and how to meet OSHA standards. The OSHA Training Institute officers occupational health and safety education to private sector and federal agency employees and the OSHA Training Institute Education Centers offer courses at various locations in the country. OSHA objectives also include providing training to employers and employees in specific industries including construction and maritime. The trainings include 10-hour or 30-hour course trainings on health and safety hazards and how to prevent them. The Disaster Site Worker training program provides 16 hours of instruction to employees skilled in disaster site clean-up efforts and those that offer on-site support.
Employer Assistance Objectives
Since OSHA objectives include providing information on safety practices in the workplace, they offer free on-site consultations for employers wanting an evaluation of their work-sites to ensure they are providing safe work environments for their employees. Small and medium sized businesses can get a confidential evaluation of any potential or present hazards, training on how to make improvements and prevent hazards as well as safety training for their management staff. If an employee files a complaint against an employer for hazardous working conditions, an OSHA representative will begin an investigation and perform an inspection of the workplace. OSHA inspectors notify employers of their findings and may issue fines or citations if serious hazards are found or if employers are in violation of OSHA safety standards.
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