In 1970, the United States Congress and President Richard Nixon passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, or OSH Act of 1970, creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a national public health agency dedicated to the basic proposition that no worker should have to choose between their life and their job.
Passed with bipartisan support, the creation of the OSH Act of 1970 was a historic moment of cooperative national reform. The OSHA Act makes it clear the right to a safe workplace is a basic human right. Since OSHA's first day on the job, the agency has delivered remarkable progress for our nation. Workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths have fallen dramatically. Together with state partners, OSHA has tackled deadly safety hazards and health risks. The organization has established common sense standards and enforced the law against those who put workers at risk. The standards, enforcement actions, compliance assistance and cooperative programs have saved thousands of lives and prevented countless injuries and illnesses.
The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites are:
These “Fatal Four” accident categories are responsible for nearly three out of five construction worker deaths. Eliminating the “Fatal Four” would save over 400 workers’ lives in America every year. For more information on the fatal four accident categories, see OSHAcademy courses 806 Focus Four: Fall Hazards, 807 Focus Four: Caught-In or -Between Hazards, 808 Focus Four: Struck-By Hazards, and 809 Focus Four: Electrocution Hazards.
OSHA also oversees all aspects of worker health and safety including work-related accidents and illnesses. For example, OSHA has established rules to help prevent workers from being exposed to environments which could cause physical injury or illness.
Take a look at the following list to get a sense of the most common workplace violations.
Top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards violations for 2017:
OSHA covers most private sector employers and workers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other U.S. jurisdictions, either directly through Federal OSHA or through an OSHA-approved state plan. State plans are OSHA-approved job safety and health programs operated by individual states instead of Federal OSHA. The OSH Act encourages states to develop and operate their own job safety and health programs and precludes state enforcement of OSHA standards unless the state has an approved program. OSHA approves and monitors all state plans and provides as much as fifty percent of the funding for each program. State-run safety and health programs must be at least as effective as the Federal OSHA program.
Do you know what Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) law(s) cover your employer? Who has the authority to inspect your employer for OSH compliance? What agency do you call for an OSH complaint or to report a violation?
An article from our partner, HSE Press Journal, takes a closer look at OSHA regulations and what you need to know to protect your employees. Click here to read the article.
As an employee, you have several rights when it comes to the OSH Act.
OSHA and its state partners, coupled with the efforts of employers, safety and health professionals, unions and advocates, have had a dramatic effect on workplace safety. Before OSHA was created in 1970, an estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job every year. Today, workplaces are much safer and healthier, going from 38 fatal injuries a day to 12. But there is still much work to be done.
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