What OSHA Stands For?
OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It is an agency that was created when the Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed into law back in 1970. Their mission is to make sure that men and women have safe and healthy working conditions by enforcing standards and providing training, education, and assistance.
OSHA has more than two thousand employees and approximately half of them are inspectors who go around to check the safety of buildings and other workplaces. Almost every employer needs to meet or exceed the guidelines that OSHA puts in place, however, independent contractors are part of the exception to that rule.
The standards that OSHA has put in place are based on the following:
- Research performed on multiple workplaces
- Advice from multiple experts
- Advice and experience of numerous employers, employees, unions, and other parties with a vested interest in businesses
Based on the above, OSHA has two main requirements:
- Requiring that every injury or accident is investigated to find the possible cause
- Requiring that all procedures, training, and equipment is thoroughly explained so that employees can perform their job safely while reducing hazardous outcomes
Of course, OSHA does much more than that and they have three strategies that they have implemented to ensure that every workplace is healthy and safe.
- Enforcement – OSHA understands that almost every employer wants to ensure the health and safety of their employees and that those that do are quite successful. Any employers that want to improve the safety of their workplace further can count on the assistance of the agency. OSHA tries to stretch their resources to cover every workplace, but they do focus the most on those businesses that are within the most hazardous industries. This is especially true for those industries that have the highest illness and injury rates.
- Education and Outreach – OSHA has numerous publications that employers and employees can read to learn about additional health and safety information. Those publications are in addition to the workplace consultations that are offered in every state. Both options are designed to help promote health and safety programs, while identifying hazards and making necessary corrections. The agency also has compliance assistance specialists in local offices around the country that can provide specific information and training for individual businesses.
- Cooperative Programs – OSHA promotes collaboration with businesses, so that everyone can learn from another’s mistakes or successes. After all, if something is working well in one workplace, it may work just as well in others that have not been using a procedure that was helpful. The Alliance Program allows labor unions, employers, trade groups, professional groups, and educational institutions to collaborate with OSHA to prevent illnesses and injuries in the workplace. The Strategic Partnership Program allows employers, employees, and employee representatives to collaborate with OSHA to outline ways to eliminate hazardous outcomes and improve safety and health. The Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program gives incentives to those employers who strive to continuously develop, implement, and improve the safety within their workplace.
Currently, employers must continuously inspect and evaluate their workplace to ensure that nothing hazardous is in place. If hazardous items are found, they must be removed or minimized as much as possible. OSHA standards require that records must be kept of any illness or injury that occurs, and every employee must be trained to recognize safety issues, while taking precautions at all times to avoid accidents.
While employers need to do most of the work, employees have a huge part when it comes to the success of the safety of their workplace. Every employee must follow the OSHA guidelines when they are performing their job duties. That includes wearing PPE, reporting hazardous conditions, reporting illnesses or injuries, and being compliant during inspections.
Of course, employees have access to multiple items to ensure that they are successful. These items include:
- Having access to their work-related illnesses and injuries
- Being able to review OSHA regulations and ask about potential hazards, procedures, and necessary precautions for their job
- Ask about previous employee exposures
- Ask for an OSHA inspection if they believe the standards are being ignored where they work
- Attend an OSHA inspection and answer questions that are asked
- Observe the collection of hazardous materials and see how the information is recorded
- Never allow themselves to be exposed to hazardous items or do anything where they can be injured
OSHA has immensely improved the safety and health of millions of employees and their workplaces over the last few decades. While no workplace is always going to have zero accidents, injuries, and illnesses, many of those instances will be far and few between.
That is good news for businesses, employers, and employees!