Workplace safety is a right of all U.S. workers, regardless of the kind of work performed. But it wasn’t always that way. At the peak of the industrial age after the Civil War, millions of workers spent long days in hazardous environments such as factories to mines — with tragic results. By the mid-1900s, workplace injuries and deaths numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
Over the next 100 years, starting in the 1870s, a series of legislative actions began to emphasize improving workplace safety to help prevent death and injury to workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Act was created to provide authority to the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) in the enforcing workplace safety and health standards. It also created the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, both divisions of the U.S. Dept. of Labor.
The law applies to any employer who engages in commercial activities and has at least one employee. It also applies to virtually all types of employers, including those in manufacturing, restaurant service, industrial applications, labor unions and much more.
OSHA also establishes a general duty clause requiring that employers maintain certain safety conditions to protect workers; be familiar with and comply with all standards applicable to the business; and, ensure that employees have all necessary protective equipment to perform their job safely. All employers are required to maintain records of any and all injuries occurring on the job, and must allow OSHA inspectors to come on site to review these records and check for reported safety hazards. Violations of this law can include costly fines and even shuttering of the business after repeated warnings.
For more on OSHA requirements and resources for your business, visit the OSHA website.
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