What is OSHA and Why is it Necessary?

Every workplace has its own set of safety issues and the construction industry is definitely no exception. Each year nearly 6,000 workplace fatalities are reported nationally and 50,000 deaths occur from workplace-related illnesses.  OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration and was created within the Department of Labor. OSHA is responsible for worker safety and health protection.

The information below is an actual snippet from the Builders License Training Institute's  Construction Safety Standards Course.

Is there a need for OSHA?

Each year there are:

  • Nearly 6,000 workplace fatalities nationally
  • 50,000 deaths from workplace-related illnesses
  • 7 million non-fatal workplace injuries
  • Injuries alone cost US businesses over $125 billion

Since 1970 OSHA has:

  • Helped cut the work-related fatality rate in half
  • Worked with employers and employees to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses by 40%
  • Virtually eliminated brown lung disease in the textile industry, and
  • Reduced trenching and excavation fatalities by 35%

What does OSHA do?

  • Encourages employers and employees to implement new, or improve existing safety and health programs by providing assistance, training and other support programs
  • Develops mandatory job safety and health standards
  • Enforces mandatory job safety and health standards
  • Maintains a reporting and record keeping system to monitor job-related injuries and illnesses

Who is covered by OSHA?

  • Most private sector employees
  • Does not cover the self-employed or immediate members of farm families that do not employ outside workers

OSHA develops and enforces standards that employers must follow.  Where OSHA does not have standards, employers are responsible for following the OSHA's General Duty Clause. Employers must 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.

SUMMARY

  • OSHA helps save lives and prevent injuries.
  • OSHA balances a cooperative approach with traditional enforcement.
  • OSHA standards are the enforceable requirements for worker safety and health.
  • Inspections are OSHA's way to ensure compliance.
  • OSHA offers various means of assistance.

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