Employment Law

How OSHA Has Improved Safety the Workplace

Looking back over the years OSHA’s safety protocols have been shown to reduce injuries and costs without affecting employment, sales, credit or the overall business.

It is mandated that every place of employment follow OSHA guidelines. OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Essentially it is a large governing agency of the US Department of Labor. The act dates back to 1970, when President Richard Nixon signed it into law. The main objective of OSHA is to ensure safe and healthy working conditions by enforcing standards, educating and providing training or assistance for all employees in the workplace. Looking back over the years OSHA’s safety protocols have been shown to reduce injuries and costs without affecting employment, sales, credit or the overall business.         

From 2001 until now, OSHA has implemented a variety of safety measures in the workplace that include, but are not limited to, companies enforcing:

  • Exit Routes, Emergency Response Plans, and Fire Prevention Plans
  • Commercial Driving Operations
  • Fire Protection in Shipyards
  • Occupational Exposure to Chemicals
  • Respiratory Protection Equipment
  • Electrical Installation Standards
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) payment
  • Updated General Industry Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards 

Each state has its own policies or ways of handling OSHA protocols, but is still required to obey, overall. OSHA regulates inspections based on imminent danger situations, fatalities or worker complaints. If at any point for any reason the United States Department of Labor states “current workers are permitted to file a written complaint and ask OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA standards.”    

OSHA’s mission explicitly describes the importance of ensuring “safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” OSHA regulations have significantly improved safety in the workplace by placing the employee’s wellbeing at the forefront. OSHA also protects businesses from legal actions that could result from negligence. In the end, both the employer and employee are protected from harm’s way, as long as there are OSHA standards in place. 

Are you concerned about health and safety on the job? OSHA has you covered.

If you are subjected to inappropriate work conditions that violate health and safety protocols, you need to be aware of your rights as an employee before you take action.  OSHA emphasizes that federal laws entitle you to a safe workplace. It is your employer’s responsibility to keep the workplace free from health and safety hazards.  You, as the employee, have every right to speak up without the fear of retaliation. Your rights don’t end just there either. You are required to receive:

  • Receiving workplace safety and health training in a language you understand
  • Work on machines that are safe
  • Receive required safety equipment, gloves or harness, and a lifeline for falls and the like
  • Be protected from toxic chemicals
  • Request an OSHA inspection and speak to the inspector to clarify your questions or concerns
  • Report injuries or illnesses as a result of the workplace and get copies of your medical records
  • Review records of work-related injuries and/or illnesses
  • See results of tests taken to find workplace hazards

Employees need to know when and go through the proper channels if they wish to file a complaint. Filing a confidential complaint is quite common and protects the identity of the individual who steps forward. Employees are protected from retaliation because it is illegal for an employer to fire, demote, transfer or retaliate against a said employee who complains to OSHA. That employee is using their legal rights. There are also specific measures to take if you believe you have been a victim of retaliation. You may file what is known as a whistleblower complaint within 30 days of the alleged claims. 

If you are unsure on how to file a complaint check out File a Complaint | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha.gov) where plenty of options are presented to if you are subjected to OSHA violations. 

Filing a Safety and Health or Whistleblower Complaint

You may submit your complaint online to OSHA through their online complaint form. You can submit the complaint form via fax, mail or email your complaint form to your local OSHA office. You are allowed to call your local OSHA office or 800-321-6742. Lastly, you can discuss your complaint in person with an OSHA staff member if you visit your local OSHA office.  

Has safety improved in the workplace?

When OSHA was created in 1971 the number of workplace fatalities was high. Since its inception, the number of fatalities in the workplace has been cut in half. On top of that, the number of occupational injuries and illnesses has dropped by 40 percent since 1971. OSHA isn’t solely responsible for the improvement of safety in the workplace. Employers and employees following OSHA guidelines, education, and training programs have also led to the reduction in these numbers.

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