OSHA began because, until 1970, there were no national laws for safety and health hazards.
–Production for World War I caused a crisis in workplace safety and health conditions. The government created a Working Conditions Service to help states inspect plants and reduce hazards.
–In the 1930’s, as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, additional laws increased the federal government’s role in job safety and health. But the federal role was mainly to provide service and information to state governments. By the late1950’s, the Federal-State partnership could no longer deal with the growing workforce and increasing hazards. Additional federal laws were enacted, but only covered certain industries.
–By the 1960’s, 14,000 workers died every year and more than 2.2 million workers were not able to work from injuries and illnesses.
Many thought that the only solution was a Federal law with the same rules and enforcement for everyone. On December 29, 1970, President Nixon signed the OSH Act. This Act created OSHA, the agency, which formally came into being on April 28, 1971. With the creation of OSHA, for the first time, all employers in the United States had the legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees. And, there were now uniform regulations that applied to all workplaces.
The OSH Act is also known as Public Law 91-596. It covers all private sector employers and their workers in the 50 states and all territories and jurisdictions under federal authority. Employers and workers in many fields, including but not limited to manufacturing, construction, longshoring, agriculture, law, medicine, charity and disaster relief are covered by OSHA. Religious groups are covered if they employ workers for secular purposes, such as maintenance or gardening.
–Immediate members of farming families not employing outside workers;
–Mine workers, certain truckers and transportation workers, and atomic energy workers who are covered by other federal agencies;
–Public employees in state and local governments, although some states have their own plans that cover these workers.
–developing job safety and health standards and enforcing them through worksite inspections,
–maintaining a reporting and recordkeeping system to keep track of job-related injuries and illnesses, and
–providing training programs to increase knowledge about occupational safety and health.
OSHA also assists the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions, through OSHA approved job safety and health programs operated by individual states. State plans are OSHA-approved job safety and health programs operated by individual states instead of federal OSHA. States with approved plans cover most private sector employees as well as state and local government workers in the state. State plan programs respond to accidents and employee complaints and conduct unannounced inspections, just like federal OSHA. And, some states have OSHA-approved plans that cover only state and local government workers.
–On average, 15 workers die every day from job injuries
–Over 5,600 Americans die from workplace injuries annually
–Over 4 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported; and
The estimated cost of occupational injuries and illnesses are from $145 billion to $290 billion a year for direct and indirect costs
OSHA is a small agency, with approximately 1000 federal inspectors and 1400 state inspectors to cover about eight million workplaces. As you can see from these numbers, OSHA cannot be everywhere. That is why it is important for you to know your rights and for employers to be aware of their responsibilities under OSHA. This training will help you know whether your employer is complying with OSHA standards, what rights you have related to job safety and health, and where you can go if you need help.
When you know your rights, and when employers act responsibly to prevent hazards, the result will be fewer worker deaths, injuries and illnesses. Training and education are key in making this happen.
–Right to know about hazardous chemicals
–Right to information about injuries and illnesses in your workplace
–Right to complain or request hazard correction from employer
–Right to training
–Right to hazard exposure and medical records
–Right to file a complaint with OSHA
–Right to participate in an OSHA inspection
–Right to be free from retaliation for exercising safety and health rights
–Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), and
–Worker training. The training must include the physical and health hazards of the chemicals and how workers can protect themselves; including specific procedures the employer has implemented to protect workers, such as work practices, emergency procedures, and personal protective equipment.
The program must also include a list of the hazardous chemicals in each work area and the means the employer uses to inform workers of the hazards of non-routine tasks. In addition, the program must explain how the employer will inform other employers of hazards to which their workers may be exposed (for example, contract workers).
You have the right to review the current log, as well as the logs stored for the past 5 years. The employer must provide this by the end of the next workday. The names and other information on the log may not be removed, unless the case is a “privacy concern case.”
You also have the right to view the annually posted summary of the injuries and illnesses (OSHA 300A).
Since you are often closest to potential safety and health hazards, you have a vested interest in reporting problems so that the employer gets them fixed. If the hazard is not getting corrected, you should then contact OSHA.
Examples of toxic substances and harmful physical agents are:
–Metals and dusts, such as, lead, cadmium, and silica.
–Biological agents, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
–Physical stress, such as noise, heat, cold, vibration, repetitive motion, and ionizing and
OSHA standards require employers to measure exposure to harmful substances, and workers or their representatives have the right to observe the testing and examine the results. If the exposure levels are above the limit set by the standard, the employer must tell workers what will be done to reduce their exposure.
If you file a complaint, you have the right to find out OSHA’s action on the complaint and request a review if an inspection is not made.
the appropriate government agency.
If you believe you have been punished for exercising your safety and health rights, you must contact OSHA within 30 days.
–Provide training required by OSHA standards
–Keep records of injuries and illnesses
–Set up a reporting system
–Provide copies of logs, upon request
–Post the annual summary
–Report within 8 hours any accident resulting in a fatality or the hospitalization of 3 or more workers
–Provide medical exams when required by OSHA standards and provide workers access to their exposure and medical records
–Not discriminate against workers who exercise their rights under the Act (Section 11(c))
–Post OSHA citations and abatement verification notices
–Provide and pay for PPE
–Maintain conditions and adopt practices reasonably necessary to protect workers on the job. The first and best strategy is to control the hazard at its source. Engineering controls do this, unlike other controls that generally focus on the worker who is exposed to the hazard. The basic concept behind engineering controls is that, to the extent feasible, the work environment and the job itself should be designed to eliminate hazards or reduce exposure to hazards.
–Be familiar with the standards that apply to their workplaces, and comply with these standards.
–Ensure that workers are provided with, and use, personal protective equipment, when needed.
[When exposure to hazards cannot be engineered completely out of normal operations or maintenance work, and when safe work practices and other forms of administrative controls cannot provide sufficient additional protection, an additional method of control is the use of protective clothing or equipment. This is collectively called personal protective equipment, or PPE. PPE may also be appropriate for controlling hazards while engineering and work practice controls are being installed.], and
–Comply with the OSH Act’s “General Duty Clause” where no specific standards apply. [The general
duty clause, or Section 5(a)(1) of the Act requires each employer to “furnish a place of employment
which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious
physical harm to employees.”]
OSHA construction standards include a general training requirement, which states:
“The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury.”
Additional general training requirements for construction include training for workers:
–required to handle or use poisons, caustics, and other harmful substances;
–who may be exposed to job sites where harmful plants or animals are present;
–required to handle or use flammable liquids, gases, or toxic materials; or
–required to enter into confined or enclosed spaces.
There are also more specific training requirements, particularly in standards put into effect since 1990. For example, OSHA’s scaffold standard and fall protection standard each has a separate section on training requirements that is intended to clarify the general training requirements in 1926.21(b)(2).
The scaffold requirement says that employers shall have each employee who performs work while on a scaffold trained by a person qualified in the subject matter to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and to understand the procedures to control or minimize those hazards. It goes into detail about what the training must cover. The fall protection standard has similar requirements.
OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard applies to both General Industry and Construction workers and requires that employers provide workers with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area at the time of their initial assignment, and whenever a new physical or health hazard is introduced. In addition, as we discussed earlier, chemical-specific information must always be
available through labels and material safety data sheets (MSDSs).
OSHA requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective in reducing these exposures to acceptable levels. Employers are required to determine if PPE should be used to protect their workers.
If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented. This program should address the hazards present; the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training of employees; and monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness. 1910.132(f) (which applies to General Industry workplaces) contains detailed training requirements for workers who must wear or use PPE.
–Set up a reporting system
–Provide copies of logs, upon request
–Post the annual summary
–Report within 8 hours any accident resulting in a fatality or the hospitalization of 3 or more workers
Recordkeeping is an important part of an employer’s responsibilities. Keeping records allows OSHA to collect survey material, helps OSHA identify highhazard industries, and informs you, the worker, about the injuries and illnesses in your workplace. About 1.5 million employers with 11 or more employees-20 percent of the establishments OSHA covers-must keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
Workplaces in low-hazard industries such as retail, service, finance, insurance, and real estate are exempt from recordkeeping requirements.
–Report each worker death
–Report each incident that hospitalizes 3 or more workers
–Maintain injury & illness records
–Inform workers how to report an injury or illness to the employer
–Make records available to workers
–Allow OSHA access to records
–Post annual summary of injuries & illnesses
–The Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (commonly called the OSHA 300 Log) is used to list injuries and illnesses and track days away from work, restricted, or transferred.
–The Injury and Illness Report (Form 301) is used to record more information about each case. Employers can use a workers’ compensation or insurance form, if it contains the same information.
–The Summary (OSHA Form 300A) shows the totals for the year in each category. A company
executive must certify that he or she has examined the OSHA Log and believes that the annual summary is correct and complete. The summary must be posted from February 1 to April 30 of each year in a place where notices to workers are usually posted, such as an employee bulletin board.
Employers are required to determine if PPE should be used to protect their workers. OSHA also requires that employers pay for most required PPE, except for uniforms, items worn to keep clean, weather-related gear, logging boots, and non-specialty safety toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or steeltoe boots) and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear, as long as the employer permits the items to be worn off the job-site.
Examples of PPE that employers must pay for include:
–Metatarsal foot protection,
–Rubber boots with steel toes,
–Non-prescription eye protection,
–Prescription eyewear inserts/lenses for full face respirators,
–Goggles and face shields,
–Fire fighting PPE (helmet, gloves, boots, proximity suits, full gear),
–Hearing protection, and
OSHA issues standards for a wide variety of workplace hazards, including:
–Fire and explosion hazards, and
In addition, as we discussed previously, where there are no specific OSHA standards, employers must comply with the OSH Act’s “general duty clause.” The General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires that each employer “furnish … a place of employment which [is] free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.
–Stages of an inspection
–Citations and penalties
Since not all eight million worksites covered by OSHA can be inspected, the agency has a system of inspection priorities.
1st Imminent Danger
4th Programmed Inspections
OSHA also conducts Follow-up and Monitoring Inspections. These inspections are made as needed, and take priority over Programmed Inspections. A follow-up is made to see if violations cited on an earlier inspection were fixed. Monitoring inspections are made to make sure hazards are being corrected and workers are protected whenever a long period of time is needed for a hazard to be fixed.
The opening conference is generally brief so that the CSHO may quickly start the walkaround. In the opening conference, the CSHO:
–Explains why OSHA selected the worksite for inspection;
–Obtains information about the company, including a copy of the hazard assessment to see what personal protective equipment is necessary;
–Explains the purpose of the visit, the scope of the inspection, walkaround procedures, worker representation, private worker interviews, and the closing conference; and
–Determines whether the facility falls under any inspection exemption through a voluntary compliance program (for example, if an OSHA-funded consultation visit is in progress).
At the start of the inspection, the CSHO checks the injury and illness records. The CSHO also checks that the OSHA poster is displayed and that the OSHA Summary of Injuries and Illnesses is posted from February 1 to April 30 each year. Other records related to safety and health issues may be requested.
THEN The union usually designates the worker representative to accompany the CSHO
IF There is a plant safety committee and no recognized bargaining representative
THEN The worker members of that committee or the workers at large will designate the worker representative
IF There is neither a recognized bargaining representative nor a plant safety committee
THEN The workers themselves may select their representative, or the CSHO will determine if any other worker would be suitable to be a representative
IF There is no authorized worker representative
THEN The CSHO must consult with a reasonable number of workers concerning safety and health matters in the workplace
workers, take photographs or video, and monitor worker exposure to noise, air contaminants, or other substances. The CSHO will conduct all worker interviews in private, although workers may request that a union representative be present.
–Regulations and standards the employer allegedly violated;
–Any hazardous working conditions covered by the OSH –Act’s General Duty Clause;
–The proposed length of time set for abatement of hazards; and
–Any proposed penalties.
Citations are sent by certified mail to the facility. The employer must post a copy of each citation at or near the place the violation occurred for 3 days or until it is fixed. Employers must also inform workers and their representatives of the correction they make.
A violation that the employer intentionally and knowingly commits or a violation that the employer commits with plain indifference to the law.
PENALTY–OSHA may propose penalties of up to $70,000 for each willful violation, with a minimum penalty of $5,000 for each willful violation.
A violation where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
PENALTY–There is a mandatory penalty for serious violations which may be up to $7,000.
A violation that has a direct relationship to safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
PENALTY–OSHA may propose a penalty of up to $7,000 for each other-than-serious violation.
A violation that is the same or similar to a previous violation.
PENALTY–OSHA may propose penalties of up to $70,000 for each repeated violation.
–Failure to Abate. OSHA may propose an additional penalty of up to $7,000 for each day an employer fails to correct a previously cited violation beyond the required date.
–Falsifying Information. Under the OSH Act, an employer providing false information to OSHA can receive a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 6 months in jail, or both.
–Violation of Posting. The employer has to post citations and abatement verification for three days or until the hazard is corrected. The posting has to be near the violation or at a central location. Failure to follow these instructions can result in a penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation. OSHA may adjust a penalty downward depending on the gravity of the violation, the employer’s good faith (efforts to comply with the Act), history of previous violations, and size of business.
Both workers and the employer have the right to participate in the hearing and request a further review of the judge’s decision by the commission.
–Sources outside the workplace/worksite
–How to file an OSHA complaint
–Employer or supervisor, co-workers and union representatives – OSHA encourages workers and employers to work together to reduce hazards. If possible, you should discuss safety and health problems with your employer. You can also talk over your concerns with other workers or your union representatives (if there is a union).
–Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for information on chemicals – Earlier in this session, we talked about the Material Safety Data Sheet, also called an MSDS, and what information it supplies. If you are working with a chemical, the MSDS can give you important information about its hazards and the precautions and personal protective equipment needed to work safely with it.
–Labels and warning signs – Labels and signs can show hazard information to workers and can be useful in providing additional information and making you aware of a potential safety or health hazard. However, signs are not intended to take the place of actual hazard correction. For example, a “Danger” sign on an unguarded piece of machinery does not meet OSHA requirements because the hazard is still present. OSHA standards such as those for hazard communication, egress, confined space and Bloodborne Pathogens require labels and signs. The employer must make sure that each sign or label posted can be understood by all workers, so the signs must be bilingual if workers do not understand or read English.
–Employee orientation manuals or other training materials – Orientation manuals and training materials about your job should include information about how to work safely. As we discussed earlier in this session, employers are required to provide training to workers exposed to certain hazards, including chemicals, falls, and confined spaces. All manuals and training materials should be written clearly and spell out what you need to know about your job hazards. They can also serve as a resource if you have questions or concerns at a later date.
–Work tasks and procedures instruction – A written job or task instruction can provide information about the proper and safe way to perform a job. OSHA considers some jobs and tasks very hazardous, such as locking out machinery, and requires employers to have written procedures. If you have questions about a new job or task, or a job or task that has changed, be sure to ask for the written procedures and for additional training on them.
OSHA website: http://www.osha.gov and OSHA offices
If you have internet access, you will find that the OSHA website has a lot of safety and health
information and links to resources that can help you.
For example, from the Home Page, you can:
–Find information in Spanish from the OSHA en Español page,
–Locate Fact Sheets and QuickCards by going to the Publications page.
–OSHA Fact Sheets provide basic background information on safety and health hazards, and
–QuickCards are small, laminated cards that provide brief, plain language safety and health information for workers. For example, there are QuickCards on fall hazards, carbon monoxide, and pneumatic nail gun safety.
You can contact OSHA by calling or visiting your local area or regional office for safety and health information or to discuss filing a complaint. Compliance Assistance Specialists in the area offices conduct many training sessions and have training materials and information that can be useful.
NIOSH is OSHA’s sister agency, with a focus on research and training. NIOSH can be a great resource for workers. NIOSH also conducts Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs) of workplaces in cases where workers are getting sick from an unknown cause or are exposed to an agent or working condition that is not regulated by OSHA. A worker can request an HHE if he or she is currently an employee at the workplace of concern and has the signatures of two other workers.
Other resources that can help you get information on safety and health concerns include:
–OTI Education Centers (OTIEC) and other University occupational and environmental health programs. The OTIECs offer the most popular OSHA courses and a variety of safety and health programs including community outreach efforts, Spanish-language courses, and youth initiatives.
–Doctors, nurses, and other health care providers can be a resource on the health effects of toxic substances, proper medical and first aid treatment, and other health-related issues. If you are discussing a health concern with your health care provider, try to provide them with as much information about the chemical or substance as possible. For example, if you are getting headaches at work, try to get the names and MSDSs or labels of the chemicals to which you are exposed.
–Public libraries have books, journals and magazines on various safety and health topics, as well as internet access.
–Other local, community-based resources, such as the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) and local COSH groups in California, New England, the Northeast, the Midwest and the South, can be a valuable resource. COSH organizations around the U.S. are committed to promoting worker health and safety through training, education, and
–You can download the complaint form from OSHA’s website, complete it and mail or fax it to OSHA. A written, signed complaint submitted to the OSHA area or State Plan office is most likely to result in an onsite inspection.
–You can file a complaint online. However, most online complaints are handled by OSHA’s phone/fax system, which means they are resolved informally over the phone.
–You can telephone or visit your local regional or area office to discuss your concerns. After the
discussion, OSHA staff can give or send you a complaint form if you wish to file.
–Note that if a hazard is life-threatening, call the Regional or local office or 1-800-321-OSHA
–Establishment Name, Address, & Type of Business: Be thorough and specific. The inspector’s research on the company and the industry’s hazards will be based on this information.
–Hazard Description/Location: The hazard description is the most important part of the form. Your answer should explain the hazards clearly. If your complaint is about chemicals, identify them whenever possible and attach copies of labels or MSDSs if you can. Identify the location so the inspector will know where to look.
–Has this condition been brought to the attention of the employer or another government agency? You should indicate on the form if you have tried to get the employer to fix the hazard before filing the complaint. Also, if another agency, such as a local fire or building department, has been notified of these hazards, OSHA may want to consult with them.
–Do NOT reveal my name: OSHA will keep your name off the complaint, if you wish. Remember that discrimination for health and safety activity is illegal. If you are a union representative, you may wish to have your name on the complaint.
–Signature and address: It is important to sign the complaint if you want OSHA to conduct an onsite inspection. Also, your address will allow OSHA to send copies of inspection related materials to you.