Monday, October 3, 2011

History of OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or what is commonly referred to as OSHA, is an agency under the United States Department of Labor, set up by the Secretary of Labor during that time, James Hodgson, on April 28, 1971. The agency is dedicated to preventing work-related injuries, job related illnesses and occupational fatalities by enforcing safety standards in the workplace. They are the reason why osha 30 and 10 hour safety training courses are now being offered to the employees of the general and construction industry.

The agency was born when former President Richard Nixon signed the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act into law on December 29, 1970. The main objective of the law was to give the national government the authority to set, monitor, and enforce proper safety techniques around most workplaces. Essentially, the OSHA set forth a number of law, rules, and regulations that all occupational health professionals had to adhere to. 

The history of occupational health and safety was a messy one before the OSHA was created.

Prior to the formation of the agency, there were no safety regulations to protect workers from occupational hazards and no clear documentation on the benefits and compensation. In fact, many workers often found themselves faced to work with machines that were in no way safe and need replacement. Since there were no rules about updating and quality control on various business sectors, most business owners would choose to save money and risk accidents with employees than to replace machines or install safety nets within their procedures. 

OSHA changed all that. When the agency was created, it received a lot of criticism from various sectors. There was a huge uproar over the need for detailed documentation from small and large businesses and most refused to be under the OSHA’s control. Once OSHA began implementing safety regulations within the workplace, businesses were forced to comply and change safety levels within some of their facilities.

Two tragic workplace accidents in 1973 however proved the need for safety regulations in the workplace, and this led to OSHA’s officials working hard to bring governing rules updated with safety and health regulations.

During the time of former President George H.W. Bush, OSHA implements certain hazardous exposure rules within the workplace. It gave the right of workers to know about hazardous materials and whether or not they are exposed to it. In January 14, 1989, OSHA mandated exposure limitations of a worker from 52 chemicals from the original 24. 

OSHA has risen in importance from the time of its conception, and now almost every single business displays special OSHA posters on their walls to inform workers of their rights. 

OSHA grants workers important rights and plays an important role in the identification and correction of workplace problems. An employee can complain about threats to health and safety and can file in person, telephone, fax, postal mail or electronically through the OSHA web site.

The various safety signs you see in the workplace: fire extinguisher signs, running man sign leading to exit doors and standpipe signs are just few of the many examples of what OSHA has brought and contributed to the safety of workers in the workplace environment.


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