What is the OSHA?

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OSHA is a federal agency that protects the rights of workers and regulates workplace safety and health hazards so that workers are less likely to become sick or injured while working in a workplace.

What is the OSH Act?

The OSH Act is the occupational safety and health act which covers most private sector employers and their employees. It also covers some public sector employers and workers in the 50 states and certain territories and jurisdictions under federal authority which include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Wake Island, Johnston Island, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands as defined in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

It was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in Dec. 1970. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (commonly called the OSH Act) was enacted to create safe working conditions by implementing standard work practices. The act is designed to ensure that workers are protected from hazards that may affect their safety and health, such as exposure to damaging noise, toxic chemicals, thermal stressors, and unsanitary conditions. Once implemented employees can expect to see an improvement in the workplace environment.

What Does OSHA Do?

It sets industry health and safety standards and holds employers accountable for creating a safe and healthy workplace. The Congress found that personal injuries and illnesses occurring in the workplace impose a great burden and limit interstate commerce because they lead to lost production, wage loss, growth in medical expenses, and the need to pay disability compensation payments to workers who are injured. Therefore OSHA tries to prevent these from happening by imposing requirements for employers to protect workers from dangerous accident prone workplace hazards.

Who Does OSHA Protect?

It protects private sector employers and employees, as well as Federal employers and employees. OSHA's aim is to protect all workers from deadly safety hazards at work and from exposure to toxic chemicals. It also ensures that workers in high-risk jobs are well educated about the job hazards they have to face regularly. OSHA also provides employers with assistance in how to implement safe work practices which save lives.

Under OSHA employees have the right to the following:

  • a working environment that does not pose a risk of injury
  • get information and training (in a language that workers that can understand) about chemical and other hazards, how to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that are applicable to their workplace;
  • be able to review records of work-related illnesses and injuries and obtain copies of test results done that find and measure workplace hazards;
  • file a complaint asking OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or that their employer is not following OSHA rules;
  • OSHA will keep all identities confidential;
  • be able to use their legal rights without the fear of retaliation.

If an employee is fired, demoted, transferred or retaliated against for using their rights under the law, they can file a complaint with OSHA. This complaint must be filed within 30 days of the alleged retaliation.

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