OSHA, officially known as the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, protects employees by setting and enforcing workplace health and safety standards. OSHA's guiding principle is that workers have the right to be safe in the workplace. As such, OSHA publishes safety standards that are designed to ensure, and maintain, a hazard-free, safe work environment.
Personal Protective Equipment
The workplace must meet standards for personal protective equipment, according to OSHA. Personal protective gear includes equipment for the eyes, face and extremities such as helmets, goggles, respiratory masks and protective clothing. Employers must assess the work environment to determine the type of personal protective equipment the worker needs. When personal protective equipment is necessary for a job, the employer must ensure the worker uses it properly and the equipment is neither damaged nor defective.
OSHA requires employers to adhere to fire protection standards in the workplace. Fire protection includes having functioning sprinkler systems, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, employee alarm systems and, sometimes, fire brigades. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) works with OSHA to create standards for items, such as automated sprinkler systems. Employers must ensure that sprinklers, alarms and other fire protective equipment work properly.
Many people in the workplace use machines that can be dangerous. As such, OSHA has standards on placement of safeguards on machines to reduce workplace injuries and fatalities. According to OSHA, a company must provide more than one type of machine guarding to ensure employee safety while the machine is operating. The type of machine will determine what kind of machine guarding equipment should be used. For instance, cutters, shears and power saws are machines that require “point of operation” guarding. This means that the machines have particular points on them that are dangerous and need to be shielded.
OSHA requires electrical safety precautions to prevent electrocutions and fires in the workplace. Specifically, OSHA standards state that wires should not be exposed, damaged wires and cords should be repaired immediately and electrical equipment must be installed and insulated properly. Also, equipment should not be stored near hazardous materials, such as flammable chemicals.