The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency in the United States that plays a critical role in ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for employees across various industries.
If you have recently been injured as a result of work-related circumstances, it is possible that OSHA will be investigating what happened to you.
Purpose and responsibilities
OSHA was established under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 with the primary goal of preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Its core responsibilities include:
- Setting Standards: OSHA develops and enforces workplace health and safety standards, which employers are obligated to follow. These standards cover a wide range of areas, including hazard communication, machinery safety, personal protective equipment, electrical safety and more.
- Inspections and Enforcement: OSHA conducts inspections of workplaces to ensure compliance with safety regulations. Inspections may be initiated based on complaints, reports of accidents or injuries or through programmed inspections targeting high-risk industries. Non-compliance with OSHA standards can result in penalties and fines.
- Training and Education: OSHA provides training programs, educational materials, and resources to employers, employees and safety professionals. These programs aim to promote awareness, knowledge and skills necessary for creating safe work environments and preventing hazards.
No government agency ever executes its purpose flawlessly, but OSHA does make many broadly consequential efforts on behalf of workers on a regular basis.
Worker rights and protections
One of OSHA’s key focuses is protecting the rights of workers. It empowers employees to:
- Access Information: Workers have the right to request and receive information regarding workplace hazards, OSHA standards, and injury/illness records.
- Report Hazards: Employees can actively participate in workplace safety initiatives, including reporting hazardous conditions, injuries, or illnesses to OSHA.
OSHA also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights to report hazards or participate in safety-related activities. As a result, if you have recently suffered adverse action at work after exercising such rights, it’s important to seek legal guidance.