What is OSHA?
OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Its mission is to protect workers from work-related illnesses and injuries through education, training, research, inspections and enforcement.
The organization was created in 1970 when Congress passed the Occupational Health & Safety Act (also known as the “OHS Act”). Since then it has become one of the most recognized federal workplace safety laws.
OSHA’s role is to ensure safe workplaces by setting health and safety standards for employers and inspecting companies that don’t meet those standards.
Why Is OSHA Important?
OSHA protects workers from occupational diseases such as cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, and many others. These diseases are preventable if employees take basic precautions like wearing protective clothing when working with dangerous substances or handling sharp objects.
In addition, OSHA helps businesses comply with other regulations that protect their workers. For example, if a company doesn’t have proper ventilation systems in place, they could be fined up to $25,000 per violation.
If a worker gets hurt while working at an establishment not complying with OSHA standards, the employer may face fines ranging from $100 to $1 million dollars.
How Does Osha Work?
There are two types of inspections that occur in every business: programmed and complaint-driven.
In a complaint-driven inspection, an employee submits a written form to the local OSHA office with details about the establishment’s problems. The Department of Labor will then send someone out to do an investigation.
If enough problems are found, the company will receive a citation and will have a chance to fix the issues before facing any fines.
In a programmed inspection, the Department of Labor will inspect certain high-risk businesses based on the chances of them having safety and health issues. These include:
Office buildings that employ assembly line work
Who Does Osha Regulate?
While most people associate OSHA with factory workers and construction sites, the organization also plays an important role in the office. Any employees who use sharp objects, handle toxic chemicals, drive company vehicles, or work at heights could be exposed to dangerous working conditions.
Of the more than 4,000 workplace fatalities in 2015, more than half occurred in the private sector, with more than two-thirds of those on the job deaths occurring in companies with fewer than 25 employees. In fact, the rate of fatal occupational injuries is much higher in states with smaller populations.
How Can OSHA Help My Company?
As you can see, even the smallest company can be at risk if an employee gets hurt on the job. This is why it’s important for every business to take advantage of the services that the Department of Labor provides.
The Onsite Consultation Program provides professional assistance to small businesses in improving their safety and health management systems. The services include:
Visits from an OSHA expert to help find and fix workplace hazards
Written safety recommendations
Training materials on physical activities, machine guarding, and other safety topics
The Small Business Specialist Program connects small business owners with resources such as lenders and financing, tax incentives, and more. The program also helps them comply with state and federal regulations.
The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program provides safety training to employers in high-risk industries. Some of the courses available include:
Fall protection training
How Can Osha Help Me?
Your business could be at risk of a workplace accident that results in expensive fines, compensation for family members, and poor employee morale due to unfortunate circumstances. Stay on the right side of the law and improve your company’s safety record by contacting your local Department of Labor today!
How to File a Complaint with OSHA
If you see something at your job that doesn’t look or feel safe, it probably isn’t. You should report your employer if you believe they are putting their employees in danger.
You can call the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at (800) 321-6742 to report any issues you are concerned about. Your complaint will be reviewed and you may be asked questions about the potential hazards at your workplace.
Your report is confidential, but your employer may find out that you filed a complaint if an investigation is launched. Even if no investigation occurs, your employer can still learn that you filed a complaint because the agency will send someone to inspect the workplace if they feel it is necessary.
If something does happen at your workplace and you didn’t report your concerns beforehand, you may feel guilty or worry that it could have been prevented if you had told someone about your fears. However, it’s important to remember that your safety (and the safety of your coworkers) is the most important thing.
It can be frightening to speak up, but it could have serious consequences for your employer if they are put on notice about any potential hazards and do nothing about it. You would certainly hope that someone would speak up if they felt your life was at risk at your job.
Do I Need an Attorney to Help Me with My Employer-Employee Law Issue?
Workplace injuries can have a significant impact on your life and your ability to provide for your family. It’s important to know your rights as an employee and how to move forward if you’ve been injured on the job or if your employer has treated you unfairly. A local employment attorney can help you navigate this often complicated area of law. They can also help if you need to fight an unsafe work environment.
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