occupational safety and health act

Before the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was implemented, there was only the Safety and Appliance Act, put into place in 1892, to help the workers of the railroad occupations. However, in the 1960s, a growing awareness of environmental concerns led to worries about how much pollution and chemicals factories were putting out into the air, leading to the government making the Occupational Safety and Health Act, passed under President Nixon. (2) The act was originally created “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act…providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health; and for other purposes.” (3)The Act also created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (1)

occupational safety and health administration

The Act itself covers anyone employed except for the self employed, government workers, and farms that only hire family members. The general duties clause reads that each employer must “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees…” (4) As a result, the OSHA, a part of the US Department of Labor, makes the standards and regulations to ensure that employees are safe. (5) The regulations made are split into three sections, General Industry, Construction Work, and Maritime. The regulations cover anything from the types of chemicals and the amount of time an employee is allowed to be around them, the types of power tools that are safe and the requirements for working, as well as first aid and fire safety requirements, among many others. (6)

national institute for occupational safety and heatlh

Also created under the OSH Act was NIOSH, a research center that is a part of Center for Disease Control and Prevention, under the US Department of Labor. The NIOSH was created to help OSHA develop accurate and effective regulation. They do not have the power to make regulations with what they discover, but they can provide training and training material to help teach about safety in work environments. They also publish a number of guides every year, including the Power Tools Database, Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation, and National Agricultural Safety Database. (7)

recent cases

OSHA has proved to be very important in saving lives and preventing death. In the past ten years, some of the most important cases were on September 11th, when OSHA became an emergency responder for the first time, testing the air to see when it was safe to go back to work, and providing equipment and cleaning up the area for the next 8 months. As a result, OSHA eliminated 9,000 hazards.(8) Also, the BP Texas City Fire in 2005 was an explosion that killed 15 people, and upon further investigation, OSHA found the explosion could have been prevented had OSHA inspected more often. The National Emphasis Program was made to enforce recordkeeping, especially among businesses that do not often follow regulations. (9)The National Emphasis program was expanded in 2008 when the Imperial Sugar Company had an excessive amount of dust causing an explosion. (10)





history of osha: