What Is OSHA and Why is it Important to Your Business?
Why is job safety and health important?
In 2008, 5,071 employees died from occupational incidents and there were a staggering 3.7 million total recordable cases of workplace injury and illness. On average, each of these 3.7 million cases required eight days away from work, which means U.S. employers as a whole paid for millions of days of lost work time. Experts estimate that workplace injuries and illnesses cost U.S. businesses more than $125 billion annually. Effective job safety and health programs not only help reduce worker injuries and illnesses, they save employers money in the long run.
How does OSHA contribute to job safety and health?
The primary goal of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to carry out the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), which Congress originally passed in 1970. The OSH Act has undergone several amendments and revisions since its inception, but it is still in place “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.” OSHA contributes to job safety and health by enacting regulations that forward this ideal. Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 1902 1990, houses all the OSHA standards, though OSHA also allows states to enact occupational safety and health laws of their own under federally-approved plans. State-run programs are at least as strict, and sometimes more so, than federal standards. This ensures a minimum standard of job safety and health that all employers must follow to protect employees.
Are all employees covered by the OSH Act?
The OSH Act covers all employees except public employees in state and local governments and those who are self-employed. Public employees in state and local governments are covered by their state’s OSHA-approved plan, if applicable.
Federal employees are covered under the OSH Act’s federal employee occupational safety and health programs, which are outlined in 29 CFR part 1960. United States Postal Service employees, however, are subject to the same OSH Act coverage provisions as those in the private sector.
Other federal agencies that have issued requirements affecting job safety or health include the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and some agencies of the Department of Transportation (DOT), including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Employees in these industries are subject to their respective regulations.
Additionally, businesses in the retail, service, finance, insurance and real estate sectors that are classified as low-hazard are exempt from most OSHA requirements, as are small businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Exceptions are discussed in 29 CFR part 1904, which also explains what OSHA regulations exempt employers are still required to follow.
What are your responsibilities as an employer?
If you are an employer covered by the OSH Act, you must provide your employees with jobs and a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm. You must also comply with the OSHA statutory requirements, standards and regulations that require you to:
Provide well-maintained tools and equipment, including appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
Provide medical assistance and guidance for employees sustaining workplace injuries/illnesses
Provide required OSHA training
Report accidents that result in fatalities to OSHA within eight hours
Report accidents that result in the hospitalization of three or more employees to OSHA within eight hours
Keep records of work-related accidents, injuries, illnesses and their causes
Post annual injury/illness summaries for the required period of time
l safety and health management system in your workplace, visit www.osha.gov.
Your GDI Broker Knows Your Risks
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) creates an annual list of their top 10 most cited violations. We created resources for you based on that list to prevent these violations in your workplace.
Lockout/Tagout Energy Control Procedure
Don't tamper with your safety
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer every year from over 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crushing injuries and abrasions - and more than 800 deaths occur yearly.
Despite the potential for injury and death, many workers still do not take machine hazards and machine guarding seriously. Often, machine guards thought to interfere with production are tampered with or removed by employees or unintentionally left off machines after repair work is done. In situations like these, employees are unnecessarily exposed to hazards that can mangle or kill them.