OSHA & It’s Effect on Workplace Safety

Everybody is entitled to a safe workplace. So, an agency was established that oversaw the requirement that employers provide working conditions to their employees free of known dangers. The agency responsible for enforcing such regulations is called the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA.

The Beginnings of OSHA

Functioning as an arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA came into existence on April 28, 1971, because the Occupational Safety and Health Act became effective. The organization came into existence to ensure that employers provide employees with an environment free from recognized hazards, including mechanical dangers, unsanitary conditions, exposure to toxic chemicals, and excessive noise levels.

Whistle-blower Program Protects Workers

Until the creation of the OSHA, efforts by the U.S. federal government to ensure workplace safety and health were unsubstantial and minimal. However, with the advent of OSHA, employees were protected by the Whistle-blower Protection Program. This ensures employees can report unsafe conditions without fear of reprimand from their employer. OSHA sends Compliance Safety and Health Officers to workplaces for routine enforcement of the agency’s guidelines. These representatives conduct inspections and assess fines if there has been a regulatory violation. Compliance Safety and Health Officers can also appear in response to employee complaints or workplace incidents.

Workplace Statistics

In the first year of reporting accidents, 1994, a survey revealed a total of 6.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported, resulting in a rate of 8.4 cases for every group of 100 full-time workers. Since then, the numbers have been declining significantly. In 2015, the number of non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses had dropped to 3.0 cases per 100 full-time workers. While it isn’t possible to align a clear correlation between the drop in workplace-related injuries and the OSHA regulations, it could also be related to workplace safety awareness from the industry. It seems likely that OSHA regulations have had a significant positive impact on safety in the workplace.