The Occupational Health and Safety Act

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) is a United States federal law which oversees health and safety in both the public and private workplace sectors. Signed into law by President Nixon in 1970, the goal of the law is to ensure the workplace safety of employees, by requiring employers to remove potential hazards such as unsanitary conditions, toxic chemicals, mechanical dangers, and excessive noise.

The legal forerunners of OSHA were introduced with the passing of the Safety Appliance Act in 1893. This was the first federal law to require workplace safety equipment, although it only applied to railroad workers. Later, in 1910, after a series of deadly mine explosions, Congress created the Bureau of the Mines to research improvements in mine safety. With the increased industrial production following World War II, accidents in the workplace soared to an all time high. In the two years preceding the introduction of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, about 14,000 employees died each year from accidents and another 2 million were injured on the job. Additionally, the increase in the use of manufacturing chemicals exposed workers to greater amounts of hazards.

Heightened awareness in the mid 1960’s about the environmental impact of chemical usage increased the public’s interest in protecting worker safety, as exposure to toxins was greater for employees than the environment into which the chemicals were dumped. After President Johnson tried to introduce a comprehensive worker protection bill that later failed, President Nixon proposed OSHA. This compromise bill was less demanding on the employers, although it did utilize the Department of Labor’s ability to enforce employer violations. OSHA officially went into effect on April 28, 1971, which is now celebrated as Worker’s Memorial Day by many American Labor Unions.

OSHA also created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, an agency within the Department of Labor. This Administration has the jurisdiction to create and enforce workplace standards. The Act also formed the independent Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission to review enforcement actions. Finally, OSHA also established the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), another autonomous research organization that forms a part of the Center for Disease Control. By creating independent investigative agencies, OSHA effectively created a systems of bureaucratic checks and balances for the best of worker protection laws and to provide a fair and methodological enforcement of such rules.

The Importance of Health and Safety in the Workplace

Every business has official responsibilities, in order to guarantee the health and safety of its recruits and other people involved; protection of the work environment should be a priority. It is not appropriate to bring about only the minimal of changes which barely meet the legal requirements. Constructive changes will benefit and promote your business.

Underprivileged health and safety acts as a safeguard against illnesses and accidents. It may increase your business costs considerably. However, keep in mind that disproportionate energy consumption not only harm yours employees health, but it also damages your profits as a direct result of his/her sick leave.

Fine health, safety and environmental performances pay for themselves. They also develop a good repute of your business in the eyes of your clientele, the local area and community, and the hired staff.

Your reputation can be an essential benefit to your business. A good standing in the community will facilitate you by making it easy to draw and maintain a hold on customers. It will make hiring new employees more convenient. It encourages traders to trust you; therefore, they will be more inclined towards forging an alliance with you.

Your approach towards health and safety plays a very important role in building up a strong reputation. Many companies have acquired phenomenal success due to their good will in the market. Others have suffered a loss of clients and in some cases; employees turned against them because they were not well served. It is always beneficial for businesses to adhere to the environmental etiquettes. Not only does it help in making customers and improving employee motivation, but it also proves your commitment to being a good citizen.

The best way to manage health and safety measures is by placing down all the steps that need to be monitored and then supervising the daily activity of all the prescribed procedures. It becomes a moral responsibility on your part to constantly assess the healthy and safe environment, which guards your reputation along with your employees – who work hard to maintain your repute in the business market.

Once you have managed an assessment, you would be able to review all other probable environmental threats. You should always update your evaluation on every occasion and whenever something is modified – for example, if you purchase new equipment, hire new employees, change your running performances and professional procedures. You should look for potential health and safety or environmental problems. You should carry out mini health assessments from time to time, so that there is no threat of any danger around your workplace. Involve employees and encourage them to give you feedback for improvements – options include a safety committee or a suggestion scheme. ‘

Keep up-to-date with what the most recent technology has to offer for new ideas and ways to improve your health and safety parameters, whereby, diminishing any risk of environmental clashes.

Thus, it is very important to maintain health and safety in your workplace; as it has a significant impact on the reputation of your business.

Occupational Health and Safety Industry Best Practices

The primary objective of the Occupational Health and Safety Act is to ensure that safety at work is achievable in every organization big or small. By complying with this act, you can address issues that may pose danger to your employees, well before any untoward incidents occur.

Workplace inspections serve a critical role in fulfilling this objective and in maintaining a safe, productive work environment where your business can flourish. These are planned walk-through activities carried out in the work premises to critically examine various factors. Some of the aspects that may be covered are materials, buildings, equipment and so on which may potentially pose danger.

One should call in competent, experienced, safety consultants to outline how an effective safety inspection should be carried out for your workplace. Keep in mind that the nature of business, the kind of processes involved here, the kind of equipment being used etc have an impact on which aspects need to be covered during your workplace inspections.

Planning your Inspections

To carry out a truly effective inspection, it needs to be thoroughly planned where every important aspect is taken into consideration. Hiring experienced safety consultants is good move because they can bring in their expertise to point out various aspects that you may not have considered. In addition, you can have your own team enrolled in health and safety officer courses with these experts to learn how periodic inspections should be carried out to curb the risks in the workplace.

Establishing acceptable standards for various workplace activities, processes and the environment, in general, is a key component of workplace safety planning process. With the standards in place, it becomes easier for your employees and your inspectors to quickly identify increased risk in any area well in advance, so that it can be rectified before it causes any harm.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act Guide has been prepared to assist employers, workers, constructors, supervisors, owners, suppliers, and others who have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The purpose of the OHS Regulation is to promote occupational health and safety and to protect workers and other persons present at workplaces from work-related risks to their health, safety, and well-being.

The occupational health and safety professional plays a major role in the development and application of accident investigations, risk assessments, loss prevention, and safety training programs for workers. They develop programs that will in conserving life, health and property; improve productivity by implementing loss-control programs in consultation with company and labour officials; identify health and safety hazards in the work environment and advise corrective action.