If OSHA were to show up at your company today, would you be scared? OSHA doesn’t need to have a specific reason to show up at any business for inspection. As long as your business is covered by federal safety regulations, they can come anytime.
As a business owner, it’s imperative for you to understand OSHA. Familiarize yourself, and your employees, with their rules and regulations.
Why is OSHA important, though? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act was enacted by the United States Congress in 1970. It stipulates that all employers must provide safe working conditions for their employees.
OSHA is responsible for ensuring that all employers meet the standards set. They hold anyone that doesn’t do so responsible by imposing penalties and fines.
As an employer, when you ignore safety rules and health codes, you place your employees in danger. Most of the time, you’ll find that employers don’t understand what OSHA guidelines are. They have no idea what would constitute a violation.
In this post, we’ll help you understand everything you need to know about OSHA and why it’s important.
Why Is OSHA Important and What Does It Do?
OSHA’s main aim is to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for all employees.
Their job is to set and enforce safety standards. They also provide training, outreach, compliance assistance, and education. They protect workers from deadly safety hazards and toxic chemicals at workplaces.
They achieve this by promoting the best workplace practices.
OSHA’s health and safety standards include cotton dust, fall protection, and work-related injuries. Some include machine guarding, lead and bloodborne pathogens, asbestos, illnesses, and deaths. The aim to avoid preventable injuries and fatalities at the workplace.
Who Is Covered Under OSHA?
If your business has one or more employees, you must comply with OSHA safety and health regulations. This does not include freelancers or independent contractors.
Self-employed business owners are not covered either. However, if their spouses received a paycheck from the business, the said spouse is covered.
OSHA Requirements for Employers
As an employer, there are certain laws and regulations you must meet. You have a responsibility towards your employees, which is to provide them with a safe and healthy work environment. You must find and correct any and all safety and health problems that pose a danger to your workers.
The first order of business involves displaying an official OSHA safety and health poster. It describes all rights and responsibilities under the Act.
You need to inform all your workers about the hazards in your workplace. Offer training, alarms, labels, color-coded systems, and other safety measures related to your industry.
All training and safety materials must be provided in a language and vocabulary all workers understand. You must create a safety data sheet for employees. It provides information about handling potentially hazardous materials and situations. Read more here about it.
It’s important that you keep all records of injuries and illnesses related to the workplace. Perform safety tests, such as air sampling, to ensure that the workplace meets all standards. Beyond that, it’s imperative that you provide safety gear and protective equipment to your workers.
All should be related to your industry and should come at no cost to the workers. OSHA injury and illness data, and citations must be displayed where workers can easily see them. You must notify OSHA about any workplace fatalities within 8 hours of the incident.
Also, report work-related amputation, loss of an eye, or outpatient hospitalization within 24 hours. More importantly, never retaliate against workers for using any of their rights, even if it means going against you.
OSHA has four main groups of standards. They include General Industry, Construction, Agriculture, and Maritime.
These standards are set to protect workers across all industries. Some of these standards include providing fall protection and preventing trench cave-ins.
The organization has a right to revise and revisit any occupational safety and health standard and change it any way they deem fit. Their standard-setting procedure is either done internally or in conjunction with others.
OSHA Enforcement and Inspection Activities
Enforcement is a significant part of ensuring that all workplace injuries and fatalities are reduced. Once OSHA finds employers that don’t uphold their safety responsibilities, they take very strong and decisive actions. Inspections are done without prior notice and are usually carried out by highly trainer officials.
Inspections are scheduled based on imminent danger, fatalities, or hospitalizations. At times it’s due to worker complaints, targeted inspections, or follow-up inspections. After inspection, the officers hold a meeting with the employer and employee representatives.
If violations are found, OSHA issues fines and citations that must be met. As an employer, you have every right to contest the citations you are not comfortable with. Workers can only protest the date by which the issues must be resolved.
The independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission review citations of appeals. If employers endanger the lives of their workers repeatedly, OSHA uses its Severe Violators Enforcement Program.
What Is the OSHA Whistleblower Protection Program?
Why is OSHA important? Because it protects employees from retaliation from their employers. The OSHA Whistleblower Protection Act is an important part of the organization.
It requires that employers never take any action against employees or workers. As an employer, you can’t fire, lay off, demote, or discriminate an employee for filing a complaint.
You also can’t reduce their salary or work hours, or deny them overtime. It’s also illegal to deny them promotions because they engaged in protected activities. This Act makes it possible for employees to speak out and file for workers’ compensation without fear of retaliation.
OSHA Regulations Create Safe Workplaces
So, why is OSHA important? We hope we have answered all your questions about OSHA and why they hold an important part in the workforce. The organization goes a long way towards protecting and ensuring the safety and health of all workers.
Did you find our article informative? If so, please share this information with your colleagues so they may also understand OSHA. Beyond that, please check out more of our website where we have more posts just like this one.