According to the US Department of Labor, Worker Protection is the Law of the Land. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The OSH Act has created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. OSHA also provides sensitive and critical information, training, and assistance to employers and workers. Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace that is free from serious recognized hazards, which is commonly known as the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. There are rules set for safety at the workplace by OSHA that are useful for both employers and workers.
What is the Goal of Occupational Health and Safety?
The Health and Safety at Work Act governs workplace health, safety, and welfare. Their goal is to ensure that working conditions are safe, secure, and healthy and that problems are resolved cooperatively in the workplace.
Occupational safety and health laws require employers to determine workplace risks, train their employees, provide occupational health care, and support employees’ working capacity. It is trying to achieve this goal by doing the following:
- Ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of employees at work;
- Ensuring non-employees are protected from the health and safety risks associated with work activities.
- Controlling the storage and use of explosive, flammable, or hazardous materials.
Four Main Groups of OSHA Standards
These standards are rules that describe the methods that employers must use to protect their employees from hazards. There are four groups of OSHA standards: General Industry, Construction, Maritime, and Agriculture. (General Industry is the set that applies to the vastest number of workers and worksites).
What is General Industry OSHA?
OSHA uses the term “general industry” to refer to all industries not included in agriculture, construction, or maritime. General industries are regulated by OSHA’s general industry standards, directives, and standard interpretations. It is generally accepted that these places of business are static in nature and do not include the industries.
What is Construction OSHA?
Construction is a high hazard industry that comprises a wide range of activities involving construction, alteration, and repair. Construction workers engage in many activities that may expose them to serious hazards, such as falling from rooftops, unguarded machinery, being struck by heavy construction equipment, electrocutions, silica dust, and asbestos.
What is Maritime OSHA?
The maritime industry includes the construction, repair, and scrapping of vessels, as well as the movement of cargo and other materials. Hazards include slips, falls, machinery and equipment hazards, hazardous chemicals, confined/enclosed spaces, and fire hazards. The implementation of controls, procedures, and training helps raise awareness of potential hazards and ways to keep workers safe.
What is Agriculture OSHA?
Agriculture is a major industry in the U.S. and includes growing and harvesting crops such as corn, cotton, soybeans, and fruit, as well as livestock, poultry, and other animals to provide products such as beef, chicken eggs, dairy, and wool.
Farmworkers are at high risk for fatalities and injuries, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure.
These four groups of standards are designed to protect workers from a wide range of hazards. These standards also limit the extent of hazardous chemicals, substances, or noise, that workers can be exposed to; require the use of certain safe work practices and equipment. It also requires employers to monitor certain hazards and keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses.