OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA, is the regulatory body tasked with ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women all across America.
Working as part of the United States Department of Labor, and empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA fulfills this mandate by setting and enforcing workplace safety standards.
The O.S.H. Act covers employers and their employees, either directly through federal OSHA or through an OSHA-approved State program; state programs must meet or exceed federal OSHA standards for workplace safety and health.
OSHA has wide-ranging oversight for a number safety topics including:
- Safety Information such as the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) which includes the collection of and access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
- Safety Processes which include process mandates such as Lockout-Tagout, Fall Protection and many other safe practices specific to common tasks.
- Workplace Safety including requirements for safety guards, slip protection, area restrictions and visual notifications.
- Safety Training including First Aid and CPR training, if necessary, and training in safe work procedures specific to individual unique tasks.
- Personal Safety Equipment which includes specifying and monitoring minimum requirements for such items as: respirators, eye protection, safety shoes, hard hats, gloves and hearing protection.
Compliance officers are employed by OSHA to inspect all places of employment and to enforce all applicable standards.
Businesses found to be out of compliance can be heavily fined or even shut down until OSHA requirements are met.
All employees are required to observe and to meet OSHA requirements as well, and can be reprimanded or dismissed for flagrant noncompliance once they are trained.