The Occupational Safety and Health Administration came about in 1971. Its sole role is to keep employees safe while they’re at work.
Yet, private employers still reported 2.8 million workplace injuries in the USA in 2019.
Accidents happen, but what is the purpose of OSHA when it comes to preventing them?
Why Was OSHA Created?
When industrial production started increasing after WWII, work-related accidents became more frequent.
Chemical innovations introduced new, sometimes dangerous, substances into the workplace. This saw even more work-related health issues arise.
Employers had no idea how to start making things safer for their workers.
Soon, a public outcry ensued thanks to increasing numbers of workplace injuries and illnesses.
The government set up OSHA to try and reduce these incidents with guidelines for minimum safety standards.
What is the Purpose of OSHA in Workplace Safety?
OSHA’s a federal agency that enforces laws set up to protect workers. Some of the major functions of OSHA include:
- Educating and informing employees and employers about workplace safety
- Making sure workplaces are hazard-free
- Promoting health and safety in the workplace
- Reducing accidents, illness, and injuries in the workplace
OSHA operates several programs designed to help them achieve these goals:
Training and Education
OSHA helps employees access the relevant safety measures as required by law. They’re available to answer questions and provide assistance to employers where necessary.
The OSHA website also features many helpful documents and educational materials. These aim to help employers understand the rules that apply to them.
Ensuring Compliance With Safety Regulations
OSHA employs OHS inspectors to check up on companies regularly to ensure compliance.
They conduct these inspections according to a specific priority hierarchy based on risk. This involves:
- Taking immediate action to protect workers from imminent danger
- Investigating all workplace deaths and injuries to find out what caused them
- Following up on all employee complaints regarding workplace safety
- Getting to the bottom of complaints about a company made by other federal departments
- Focussing inspections on businesses with high IOD rates
- Following up after an initial failed inspection
Apart from these targeted inspections, OHS compliance officers also conduct random inspections of workplaces across the country.
Enforcing Safety Laws
If an OHS inspector believes that an employer’s disregarding the laws, they offer guidance about necessary improvements.
Repeat offenders and those who knowingly disregard the law can receive a hefty fine of up to $70,000. If an employee suspects that their employer isn’t complying with OSHA standards they can bring the matter up with OSHA.
Any employer whose injured on the job also has the right to hire a workplace injury lawyer to help them get compensation for their injuries.
Keep Your Workplace Safe
Now that you understand the purpose of OSHA, it’s a little easier to view them as an ally rather than an enemy.
Whenever you’re in doubt about the latest safety legislation, get in touch with an OSHA representative, before you end up in hot water.
For more tips on how to make sure your business stays safe and productive, keep browsing our blog.