Course 600 - Introduction to Occupational Safety and Health

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About OSHA

OSHA's Mission

OSHA Logo
Occupational Safety and Health Administration

With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.

Organization

OSHA is part of the United States Department of Labor. The administrator for OSHA is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. OSHA's administrator answers to the Secretary of Labor, who is a member of the cabinet of the President of the United States. See the current OSHA Organizational Chart.

OSHA Coverage

The OSH Act covers most private sector employers and their workers, and some public sector employers and workers in the 50 states and certain territories and jurisdictions under federal authority.

Those jurisdictions include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Wake Island, Johnston Island, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands as defined in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

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1. OSHA carries out its mandate by doing all of the following, EXCEPT _____.

a. setting standards
b. conducting research
c. enforcing standards
d. providing assistance

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What is OSHA's Focus?

Fall Protection
Lack of proper fall protection is usually at the top of OSHA's Top 10 most frequently citied OSHA standard violations.

OSHA is not just concerned with work-related fatalities. OSHA oversees all aspects of worker health and safety. This includes work-related injuries and illnesses. Take a look at the following list to get a sense of the most common workplace violations encountered by OSHA.

2018 Top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards violations:

  1. Fall protection, construction (1926.501)
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry (1910.1200)
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (1926.451)
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry (1910.134)
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (1910.147)
  6. Ladders, construction (1926.1053)
  7. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (1910.178)
  8. Fall Protection-Training Requirements (1926.503)
  9. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (1910.212)
  10. Electrical, wiring methods, components, equipment, general industry (1910.305)

OSHA's "Fatal Four"

Out of 4,674 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2017, 971 or 20.7% were in construction. Consequently, OSHA is focusing on the following causes of private sector worker deaths (excluding highway collisions) in the construction industry:

The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites are:

  • Falls - 381 out of 971 total deaths in construction in CY 2017 (39.2%),
  • Struck by Object - – 80 (8.2%),
  • Electrocutions – 71 (7.3%), and
  • Caught-in/between* – 50 (5.1%).

These "Fatal Four" accident categories are responsible for nearly three out of five construction worker deaths. Falls represent the cause of most of these accidents. Eliminating the "Fatal Four" would save more than 400 workers' lives in America every year. For more information on the fatal four accident categories, see courses 806, 807, 808, and 809.

2. Which of OSHA's "Fatal Four" accident categories is responsible for the most deaths on construction sites?

a. Falls
b. Struck by Object
c. Electrocutions
d. Caught-in/between

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OSHA Jurisdiction

OSHA State Plans
OSHA State Plans
(Click to Enlarge)

The OSH Act covers most private sector employers and their workers, in addition to some public sector employers and workers in the 50 states and certain territories and jurisdictions under federal authority. Those jurisdictions include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Wake Island, Johnston Island, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands as defined in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

State Plans

State Plans are OSHA-approved workplace safety and health programs operated by individual states or U.S. territories. There are 22 State Plans covering both private sector and state and local government workers, and there are six State Plans covering only state and local government workers. State Plans are monitored by OSHA and must be at least as effective as OSHA in protecting workers and in preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths.

For more information see: OSHA's State Plan Page

3. State-run safety and health programs must be _____.

a. approved by the CDC and Congress
b. evaluated annually by the Department of Labor
c. at least as effective as the Federal OSHA program
d. identical to the federal program

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Employee Rights

Employees
It is the employer's duty to provide workplaces that are free of known dangers that could harm employees.
(Click to enlarge)

The OSH Act gives employees the right to safe and healthful working conditions. It is the duty of employers to provide workplaces that are free of known dangers that could harm their employees. This law also gives employees important rights to participate in activities to ensure their protection from job hazards. Employees have basic rights under the OSH Act.

  • Work in a safe workplace.
  • Raise a safety or health concern with your employer or OSHA, or report a work-related injury or illness, without being retaliated against.
  • Receive information and training on job hazards, including all hazardous substances in your workplace.
  • Request an OSHA inspection of your workplace if you believe there are unsafe or unhealthy conditions. OSHA will keep your name confidential. You have the right to have a representative contact OSHA on your behalf.
  • Participate (or have your representative participate) in an OSHA inspection and speak in private to the inspector.
  • File a complaint with OSHA within 30 days (by phone, online, or by mail) if you have been retaliated against for using your rights.
  • See any OSHA citations issued to your employer.
  • Request copies of your medical records, tests that measure hazards in the workplace, and the workplace injury and illness log.

A job must be safe, or it cannot be called a good job. OSHA strives to make sure that every employee in the nation goes home unharmed at the end of the workday, the most important right of all.

For more information on employee rights, see Workers' Rights

4. What is one of your responsibilities as an employee?

a. Complying with all OSH standards that apply to your actions and job
b. Posting safety and health notices in your workplace
c. Providing your own personal protective equipment
d. Correcting workplace hazards indicated by a citation

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Employer Responsibilities

Employees
Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. (Click to enlarge)

Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers MUST provide their employees with a workplace that does not have serious hazards and must follow all OSHA safety and health standards. Employers must find and correct safety and health problems.

OSHA further requires that employers must try to eliminate or reduce hazards first by making feasible changes in working conditions - switching to safer chemicals, enclosing processes to trap harmful fumes, or using ventilation systems to clean the air are examples of effective ways to get rid of or minimize risks - rather than just relying on personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, or earplugs.

Employers MUST also:

  • Prominently display the official OSHA poster that describes rights and responsibilities under the OSH Act.
  • Inform workers about hazards through training, labels, alarms, color-coded systems, chemical information sheets, and other methods.
  • train workers in a language and vocabulary they can understand;
  • keep accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses;
  • perform tests in the workplace, such as air sampling, required by some OSHA standards;
  • provide hearing exams or other medical tests required by OSHA standards;
  • post OSHA citations and injury and illness data where workers can see them;
  • notify OSHA within 8 hours of a workplace fatality or within 24 hours of any work-related inpatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye; and
  • not retaliate against workers for using their rights under the law, including their right to report a work-related injury or illness.

5. Which of the following is a listed OSHA-mandated employer responsibility?

a. File complaints with OSHA
b. Request an OSHA inspection
c. Post OSHA citations
d. Notify OSHA of workplace hazards

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Making a Difference

Fatalities in 2015
Fatalities 2003-2017.
(Click to Enlarge)

Worker injuries, illnesses and fatalities

In more than four decades, 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.

  • Worker deaths in America are down about 63 percent - from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 14 a day in 2017.
  • Worker injuries and illnesses are down around 75 percent - from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.8 per 100 in 2017.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 5,147 workers died on the job in 2017 (3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) — on average, more than 99 a week or more than 14 deaths every day.

For more information on injuries, illnesses, and fatalities by state, see the BLS Statistics Page.

6. Since 1970, annual worker fatalities on the job have decreased in America by about _____.

a. one-third
b. 63 percent
c. half
d. 75 percent

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