The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
OSHA’s mission statement, "assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance" encompasses all of their long term aims among private and public companies in the United States. Economic and industrial expansion in the US led to a large demand for workplace safety standards and protections. The Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed into law by former President Richard Nixon in the year 1970 and by 1971 OSHA had been established in the United States.
OSHA has been a staple for the American workforce since signed into law. In it’s first decade, OSHA introduced standards for commonplace contaminants including asbestos, lead, dust, and additional carcinogens. In the 1980’s, OSHA created new standards on safety testing and certification of heavy machinery and equipment in the workplace. Today, OSHA remains the largest organization for workplace protections, and have expanded across all 50 states and remain a partner for employers everywhere in response to various workplace incidents and natural disaster.
OSHA’s Healthcare Standards
Through a series of safety standards and regulations, OSHA ensures healthcare employers to provide a safe work environment free from hazards that are likely to cause injury. The benefits to companies for complying to OSHA standards are endless, including consistent staff retention, high employee morale, and increased overall satisfaction from patients. OSHA continues to add and revise their guidelines concerning personal protective equipment (PPE), recordkeeping, fall protection, general working conditions, fire protection, emergency action plans and more.
OSHA works to meet the ever-evolving laws and regulations of the federal government. As new businesses and industries grow, OSHA generates guidelines to cover a wide umbrella of employers. A list of comprehensive OSHA guidelines is readily available for everyone on the OSHA website as well as additional resources so you can be aware of OSHA standards.
OSHA Inspection Process
Although the inspection process for OSHA can seem intimidating, OSHA provides a wealth of resources and trainings that are at any employer’s disposal. OSHA has the authority to potentially inspect any workplace or facility. However, they prioritize specific circumstances such as imminently dangerous situations, complaints, injuries, illnesses, and targeted inspections. During the inspection, employers can expect to provide a presentation of credentials, an opening meeting, facility walkaround, and a follow-up meeting.
OSHA also requires specific recordkeeping around the workplace. Documentation recording employee injury and illnesses play an important part in preventing further incidents. Records also help employers and workers limit workplace hazards. Documents are part of every OSHA evaluation.
In the 1970’s, OSHA also issued whistleblower protections for workplace safety. OSHA has been a strong proponent on behalf of workers to protect their rights to report safety violations or concerns without fear of employer retaliation.