OSHA and Worker Safety
Written by Greg on May 6, 2013
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, also known as OSH Act, was enacted to help prevent workingmen and women from being seriously injured or killed on the job. The law sets forth specific standards that employers must meet as far as work place safety and dealing with known dangers.
OSHA was created in the law and is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the minimum levels of safety set forth in the act.
The vast majority of working men and women in America follow under OSHA’s jurisdiction. OSHA covers private employers and employees. Exempted are certain employees for state and local governments and many federal agencies.
The standard set by OSHA give clear guidance to employers on how to protect their employees from dangers that could injure the employee. Such things as hazardous chemicals, fall protection, infectious diseases, trench cave-ins and other hazardous situations are dressed in the act.
OSHA also contains a general duty clause which indicates that employers must keep their workplace safe and free of recognized dangers.
It is no secret that OSHA is underfunded and cannot possibly inspect and enforce the act every time there is a potential violation. In the Houston area, the most common time that OSHA is involved comes after a very serious accident or a fatal accident. In those situations, OSHA conducts a fairly extensive investigation to determine if the accident could have been prevented and how.
Texas has a very high number of on-the-job fatal accidents particularly in the construction industry. Prudent companies give frequent safety meetings and cover the safety regulations contained in OSHA on a ongoing basis.
It has been very vogue to cite regulations as being anti-business and also unnecessary in our state and country. A large majority of businesses are genuinely interested in the safety of their workforce and comply with OSHA whether or not OSHA was the law of the land or not. Unfortunately, there are other businesses that take a relaxed view of safety and endanger workers by their actions and inactions.