OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) offers a three-page publication, OSHA-at-a-Glance which provides concise yet thorough introduction to the organization. Since thhe Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed, OSHA has worked to prevent serious injury and death to workers on the job. In addition to setting and enforcing protective workplace safety and health standards, OSHA also provides information, training, and assistance to employers and workers.
OSHA-at-a-Glance includes information about:
- Employer responsibilities
- Employee rights
- OSHA standards
- Help for employers
- Information and education
- Who OSHA covers
- How to contact OSHA
Employers are expected to maintain a certain amount of transparency, as their responsibilities include keeping employees informed about chemical hazards, posting certain information clearly visible to workers, and keeping OSHA apprised of workplace fatalities.
Employees are entitled to know about hazards that could affect them and how to keep themselves safe. They also have the legal right to file a complaint with OSHA without fear of retaliation or discrimination.
The phrase "OSHA standards" is common in many workplaces, but many employers and employees may not really know what "OSHA standards" mean. The term OSHA standards applies to the rules that OSHA has set forth to describe the methods employers are legally required to follow to protect their workers from hazards. Employers need to know and thoroughly understand the OSHA standards relevant to their worksite.
OSHA is legally allowed to inspect any workplace under its jurisdiction, but what other factors play a role in terms of who is inspected? According to OSHA, inspections are based on priorities, including imminent danger, catastrophes and worker complaints. When inspections turn up violations or serious hazards, OSHA can issue citations, fines, or both. Citations tell employers what is wrong and also include methods by which the employer can fix the problem. Fines are financial penalties.
OSHA does not only make and enforce workplace rules, they also offer several free programs and services help employers identify and correct job hazards as well as improve their injury and illness prevention programs. Employers who are eager to comply with OSHA standards or are confused as to how to apply OSHA standards at their company are urged to take advantage of such services.
Getting clear information from a government agency may sound daunting, but there are several good sources of information from OSHA regarding occupational health and safety. These offerings may be found on its website and include:
- Safety and health topics pages
- Safety fact sheets
- Expert advisor software
- Copies of regulations and compliance directives
In general, OSHA covers workers in the private sector as well as many of those in the federal, state, and local governments. Some workers in state and local government who are not covered by federal OSHA are covered by state programs.
Anyone interested in contacting OSHA may go to their nearest OSHA office, visit www.osha.gov or call OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), TTY 1- 877-889-5627.
OSHA QuickTakes July 1 2011, Volume 10, Issue 13