OSHA is a United States agency that was created in 1970 by Congress under the Occupational Safety and Health Act signed by President Richard Nixon. OSHA makes rules for safety in the workplace to prevent deaths, injuries and illnesses related to work. The government regulates workplaces, and OSHA workers visit workplaces to make sure their standards are followed.
OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Many states have their own branches of this federal agency. For example, Michigan has its own agency called MIOSHA, which concentrates on work safety issues that concern the types of businesses located in Michigan--such as manufacturing and the automobile industry. Oregon's agency is called OR-OSHA and focuses on issues of interest to pulp and paper workers. Of course, all OSHA agencies work to prevent accidents and injuries in all workplaces.
At first, safety training and devices were expensive and difficult for businesses, and some companies felt singled out because enforcement of regulations weren't consistent. Over the years, standards became more consistent and OSHA began concentrating on health hazards, the right to know about chemicals in the workplace, and protecting workers from blood-borne pathogens that could cause diseases like AIDS and hepatitis.
Types of regulations required by the government and enforced by OSHA include putting guards on moving parts and using more safety equipment such as gloves, goggles, earplugs, harnesses and respirators. Exposure to chemicals and dust are supposed to be limited, and energy sources have to be turned off when repairs are being done.
Since OSHA's regulations began to be accepted by businesses, more workplace training classes and films have become available to employees. Forklift safety, first aid and ergonomics are only a few of the classes required by many employees. Requiring licenses and certificates to be earned by employees in certain areas of a workplace through a combination of classroom training, testing, and performance contribute to OSHA's attempts to make jobs safer.
Many workers believe OSHA protects them by holding employers liable for any injury that occurs at work. If businesses have the necessary OSHA workplace signs in place, post required workplace safety rules and provide protective equipment to employees, they aren't responsible for injuries that occur because of a worker's negligence. Many of OSHA's regulations are adopted by businesses because they protect the employer as well as the employee.