OSHA Laws & Regulations


Workers all across the United States can thank the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) and the subsequently formed federal agency called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for helping to keep them safe and free from injury on the job. The laws and regulations that OSHA enforces require businesses and industries to meet certain standards that ensure the prolonged health of their employees. As a result, workers can perform their job duties with less fear of suffering injuries or other physical harm.


The Occupational Safety and Health Act became federal law in 1970 when members of Congress passed it to facilitate increased safety in the workplace. An immediate effect of the legislation was the creation of two new federal entities: OSHA in the United States Department of Labor and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health under the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. While OSH, and therefore OSHA, covers many federal agencies, it does not apply to farms operated by families, local and state government agencies, self-employed individuals or any business under the jurisdiction of federal laws besides OSH.


OSHA enforces OSH in every state, in large part by establishing various standards--also called regulations--that employers are required to respect in order to avoid exposing workers to relevant hazards. For instance, toxic chemicals, high levels of noise, extreme temperatures and unsanitary surroundings are all among the types of exposure that OSH legislation was established to prevent. OSHA strives to make sure associated dangers never occur.


The primary law that OSHA enforces is OSH, along with numerous regulations related to everything from longshoring guidelines to record keeping to workplace inspections. To pursue its agenda and persuade employers to remain in conformity, OSHA also has the ability to exact penalties for violations of employees' rights and, consequently, its standards.


Without OSHA, employers in the covered industries would likely find it much easier to take advantage of staff members and their need for a steady paycheck by subjecting them to dangerous conditions in order to, for example, make a larger profit. In fact, OSH was introduced precisely because of mounting fears during that era related to the use of chemicals with a negative effect on the environment and human beings.


Implementing OSHA's regulations is not just the obligation of the agency. Employers must actively strive to put OSH-related standards into practice if they want to avoid the legal ramifications of failing to do so. Part of that responsibility requires informing employers of any and all hazards related to their position.

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