Before 1970, the individual States set job safety and health standards. These laws often needed to be more stringent to protect workers and employers. To help prevent it, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was founded through it. Making the workplace safe and healthy for employees was its main objective.

Occupational Safety and Health Act

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed to prevent people from being killed or seriously injured on the job. To establish and implement workplace safety regulations and offer guidance, instruction, and support, set the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It also protects workers from being discriminated against for exercising their rights.

Under the OSH Act, all employers must abide by OSHA’s occupational safety and health standards. These requirements include creating a work environment free from known risks that could endanger an employee’s life or cause them great bodily harm, such as exposure to infectious agents and toxic chemicals, mechanical hazards, and extremely high or low temperatures.

Employees have the right to file a complaint with OSHA about unsafe working conditions in their workplace, and they can keep their identities confidential from their employers. They can also contest the amount of time that OSHA gives an employer to correct a violation and participate in workplace inspections.

The OSH Act does not cover self-employed individuals or family-operated farms that only employ immediate family members or federal employees. However, it does protect state and local government agency employees who participate in an OSHA-approved plan under the Act or have an equivalent program for their staff. Additionally, under Presidential Executive Order 12196, Federal agency heads must implement occupational safety and health programs that are at least as stringent as those provided by OSHA.

General Duty Clause

Employers must provide a workplace free from known hazards like hazardous chemicals, infectious agents, mechanical risks, high noise levels, and heat or cold stress to their staff under the General Duty Clause. This clause is the foundation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, enacted after three years of hard-fought legislative battles.

Despite its importance, the General Duty Clause is rarely cited. Some estimates say it accounts for less than 2% of all OSHA citations. This is partly because specific standards exist for most major industrial hazards, and OSHA also incorporates many outside safety and health standards by reference, making them enforceable. However, the biggest reason is that to cite under this section, OSHA must demonstrate that the situation passes a four-part test.

First, the agency must prove that the employer knew about the hazard. This can be demonstrated through various sources, including injury and illness logs, employee complaints to management, or even offhand comments from a worker. The likelihood that the hazard would result in a worker’s death or significant bodily injury must also be demonstrated.

Finally, the hazard must be susceptible to being addressed with reasonable reduction means. This is the most important requirement for a company to remember, as it will prevent OSHA from imposing a cost-prohibitive abatement solution that would be difficult for a business to implement.

OSHA Regulations

Under the OSH Act, a federal agency called OSHA sets standards for employers to ensure workplaces are free from hazardous conditions. The agency also enforces the Act and can impose fines on employers that don’t comply with its rules.

The agency has jurisdiction over private businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. It also oversees state job safety and health plans that the agency approves. Those plans cover workers at private companies, at state and local government agencies, as well as in the private sector of the post office.

In addition to setting workplace standards, OSHA conducts inspections and responds to employee complaints. The agency has the authority to look into workplaces, and it is against the law for employers to take adverse action against workers who report issues or assist with an investigation.

The Act requires employers to provide workers with personal protective equipment at no cost and to train them on how to use it properly. Additionally, the agency requires that employers keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. This information is compiled into logs, summaries and reports that can be reviewed by OSHA staff. The agency may also set specific standards for different industries, including agriculture, construction and manufacturing. The Act also allows OSHA to classify certain violations as either “de minimis,” which doesn’t require any penalty, or as other than severe.


The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH) requires employers to provide employees with a safe and healthy workplace. The law assigns the Occupational Safety and Health Administration two specific regulatory functions: setting standards and conducting inspections to ensure that employers comply with those standards.

Every establishment covered by the OSH Act is subject to inspection by OSHA compliance safety and health officers. These individuals are highly trained in identifying workplace hazards and can issue citations and propose penalties for violations. The Act establishes that an employer who knowingly commits a serious or willful violation may be assessed a civil penalty of up to $70,000. For other-than-serious violations, OSHA adjusts proposed penalties based on factors such as an employer’s good faith efforts to comply, history of previous violations and size of the business.

The law also gives workers several important rights, including filing complaints, keeping their identity confidential, and participating in OSHA workplace inspections. In addition, the law requires employers to keep track of work-related injuries and illnesses by completing logs and summary forms for each location that employs people. These records help OSHA understand the frequency and severity of work-related incidents. The Secretary of Labor must also review these records and set new standards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *