You’ve probably heard of OSHA before, but unless you work in construction, manufacturing, or a similar office environment, you may not fully understand its purpose or even what the initials stand for. OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a section of the Department of Labor created by the federal government to monitor standards and safety practices in the workplace.
Due to high numbers of injury and accidents in the workplace, OSHA was created in 1970 to help regulate these problems; they set and enforce safety standards across the board to ensure good working conditions. Not only do they create the rules and procedures, however: they’re also dedicated to training and outreach, so employers and employees can be aware of safety protocol and have recourses to report violations that put them at risk. This provides a level of accountability for employers, who must meet and maintain health and safety standards in their offices, which are also inspected for free by OSHA workers.
What exactly is OSHA monitoring and expecting? The regulations cover a number of areas, from the safe disposal of hazardous materials to the provision of appropriate safety gear such as hard hats, goggles, gloves, etc. Essentially, factors that affect the health and safety of people who work in contamination cleanup, construction, medicine, and recovery and response operations, among others, are under their jurisdiction.
OSHA officers can be dispatched not only for routine inspections, but also if a report of a safety violation is made by an employee, or in response to an accident. They may issue citations or fines to employers if they find violations, and may ask to see records of injury and illness on site, or require that records be kept in the future.
One of OSHA’s main goals is not to just oversee, but also educate: they train both employers and employees in safety practices so they can contribute to creating a safe working environment on their own.
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