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The History of OSHA

Did you know roughly 2.4 million people are injured at work every year? OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has a vital role in reducing this number each year.

However, OSHA's role in the workplace wasn’t always in place to protect us. So, what is the history of OSHA? And what does it cover today? If you want to learn the answer to these questions, and more, you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about the formation of this regulatory agency.

What Conditions Sparked OSHA?

It might be hard to believe, but before 1970, there were no national laws that provided safety guidance and protection from health hazards. In 1887 Massachusetts became the first state to pass safety laws.

But, legislation was confined to the state level. In the meantime, frequent workplaces injuries were leading to national attention. In particular, the 1911 New York City Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire killed one hundred forty-six people.

On top of that dangerous factory conditions from WWI were causing widespread safety and health problems. In response, President Taft created the Department of Labor in 1913.

As the country entered the 1930s President Roosevelt’s New Deal did make some strides in increasing the government’s role in health and safety.

Particularly the contributions of Frances Perkins and the Bureau of Labor Standards that she helped make.

But as the twentieth century carried on it became increasingly obvious that the Federal-State partnership for health and safety could only go so far.

Nixon Creates the Act

Disturbing statistics emerged in the 1960s that a startling number of people were dying each year in workplace accidents. This put pressure on President Nixon in 1970 to pass Federal law to deal with the problem.

So, on December 29, 1970, Nixon passed OSH Act, also known as Public Law 91-596.

At its heart, this law puts the legal responsibility on employers to create a work environment that’s both safe and healthy. To do this, it imposed regulations that affect almost all industries.

What Is OSHA's Mission?

OSHA is designed to provide workers of all sorts with a safe and healthy working environment. It does this through extensive training and education. OSHA will also engage a lot in outreach and assistance.

But, what are some of the specific things that OSHA does? Well for starters it creates standards for health and safety in the workplace. It will also enforce these standards through worksite inspections.

Before these standards are created they need to go through a lengthy process that involves a lot of public engagement. OSHA also maintains a record system to track injuries and accidents in the workplace.

That way, it can keep accurate statistics on trends in the workplace and the effectiveness of training campaigns.

Finally, OSHA offers training programs to employees to ensure they stay safe around potentially hazardous materials.

Who Does the OSHA Act Cover?

OSHA covers almost all the private sectors in all fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia and the United States jurisdictions. States can do this one of two ways. One, they can adopt the Federal OSHA plan.

Or, they can submit a state plan that must be OSHA-approved. State plans are operated by individual states but are still monitored by OSHA. Currently, twenty-two states have OSHA-approved state plans.

In addition to the private sector, OSHA also covers Federal government agencies. In these cases, the head of the agency is responsible for providing safe working conditions.

OSHA will regularly inspect Federal facilities to make sure they are up to code. If something is wrong, then a virtual fine is given.

This is a press release that states how much would be charged if they were a private-sector employer.

Who Does It Not Cover?

Sadly not everyone is covered by OSHA's protection. First, any self-employed individuals are not subject to OSHA, since they are technically their bosses.

In addition, in farming families, any immediate members who are not employed are outside workers. Mining workers, atomic energy employees, and transportations industries also don’t report to OSHA.

But, that’s because they’re covered by other Federal agencies. Finally, any public employees in state or local governments are not protected.

How Do You Make Sure You’re OSHA Compliant?

If you’re an employer, then you likely know that an OSHA violation is nothing to take lightly. That’s why you must make sure you’re OSHA compliant by reducing or removing all potential hazards.

The best way to do this is to go through an OSHA compliance checklist like this one:

  • Make sure the workplace has no hazards described by OSHA standards
  • Regularly inspect the area for hazards
  • Make sure workers are equipped with proper tools and equipment
  • Use signs, posters, color codes, and labels set by OSHA
  • Teach workers operating procedures
  • When appropriate, offer OSHA medical examinations
  • Display posters that show the employee’s there rights under OSHA
  • Provide workers with access to their medical and exposure records
  • Provide authorized employees to attend OSHA inspection
  • Don’t discriminate against workers that report health or safety violations to OSHA

Obviously, this is just a brief summary of the checklist you should be doing. If you want to go through a more detailed checklist, make sure to check out our full guide here.

Keep the History of OSHA Alive With Compliance Training

We hope this article helped you learn more about the history of OSHA. Things are indeed better off with OSHA in place. But, there’s no denying the strain on employers to make sure they comply with all OSHA standards.

Luckily, here at Compliance Training Online, we’re making it easy to get the proper certification.

Our veteran-led company is devoted to keeping employees safe. So, if you’re ready to get the compliance training you need, contact us today.

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