What is OSHA and How Does it Affect Businesses?
Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA’s mission is to help employers and employees reduce on the job injuries, illnesses, and death by directing national compliance initiatives in occupational safety and health. OSHA, though often considered a nuisance, actually helps businesses protect their workers and reduce the number of workplace accidents. Since 1970, workplace deaths have been reduced by more than sixty percent, and occupational injuries and illnesses have declined forty percent. In addition – and what most industrial businesses fret over – OSHA has conducted close to forty thousand inspections and has issued over eighty-five thousand citations for safety violations.
Below are the ways and methods OSHA rules and regulations affect businesses:
Increased Inspections – OSHA has an exorbitant budget and has increased its hiring of inspectors over the years. In addition, the agency is shifting personnel away from its cooperative programs and toward enforcement.
Large Fines if Found Noncompliant – Even though Congress has not passed legislation to increase the maximums for OSHA fines, the agency believes it can raise fines itself by changing the way fines are calculated.
Regulation Through Embarrassment – OSHA hopes public condemnation of business activities that result in serious injury or death will act as enough of a deterrent. The agency plans to issue more hard-hitting press releases that clearly explain why an employer faced a steep fine.
Inspectors Interview Employees – During every inspection, OSHA compliance officers will converse with workers privately and confidentially in order to discover if companies are recording injuries as required.
Increased Inspections on Employee Training – OSHA says its inspectors will check whether required and necessary training is conducted by employers in a way that workers can clearly understand.
Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Required – OSHA states that workplaces in the United States need to undergo a paradigm shift, with employers going beyond merely meeting OSHA guidelines and standards. OSHA wants companies to implement risk based workplace prevention programs to uncover hazards before it lead to an injury or death.
Refined Examination of Safety Incentive Programs – OSHA fears that some employers, particularly those in high-hazard industries, have implemented programs (inadvertently or by design,) that discourage injury reporting to prevent outcomes detrimental to business. OSHA inspectors will perform stringent surveillance to discover whether such programs have caused injuries to go unrecorded.
New Regulations will Develop Faster – OSHA is researching several ways to speed development of new standards. OSHA wants to increase collaboration with other worker protection agencies to aid in quicker regulation development.
Implementation of Electronic Workplace Records – OSHA wants to transition to electronic data collection that will force companies to follow certain OSHA standards to report workplace injuries and illnesses electronically.
OSHA requirements for building safety & egress signage can vary from state to state. To learn more about how OSHA affects your business, contact GloBrite Systems.