OSHA Compliance: What is it?

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OSHA was created in 1970 to protect US workers and provide a safe work environment. Despite regulations, industrial accidents still occur due to ignored standards. Employers must comply with OSHA safety standards, which cover most American workplaces.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, was created by Congress in 1970 to protect the health of the United States workforce and provide a safe work environment. Employers’ efforts to comply with OSHA safety can be seen virtually everywhere. For example, fire safety stations can be found in most new office buildings, and many thousands of older office buildings have been retrofitted with state-of-the-art fire safety stations. Eye wash stations are visible in facilities where there is even a remote possibility of injury from splashes, and professional quality first aid stations are provided by most employers.

The idea of ​​industrial safety first came to the attention of the American public in 1905 with the magazine serialization of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, which described conditions faced by the average American worker in gruesome detail. The Jungle was all about working in slaughterhouses, so official attention to the issue focused on food, and soon after, pharmaceuticals, with the passing of the pure food and drug laws of the early 20th century. Safety and health issues in other industries were covered by a patchwork of national and state legislation and regulation, and no comprehensive effort was made to address the issues surrounding industrial safety and health until OSHA approval in 1970.

An agency of the US Department of Labor, OSHA is charged with preventing work-related injuries and illnesses, and most importantly, occupational fatalities. Regularly issues applicable workplace safety and health standards. In its early years, it regularly encountered controversy in its attempts to make the American workplace safer, and employers complained bitterly about the costs they must shoulder to achieve OSHA safety compliance. These costs often included retrofitting existing equipment and entire workspaces to newly developed best practice standards. Over time, however, OSHA safety compliance has become an accepted part of doing business, and equipment sold to employers is routinely tested and certified as OSHA compliant.

OSHA regulations cover most American workplaces and are exceptionally thorough. One of the OSHA safety standards that many Americans are familiar with is the Material Safety Data Sheet, or MSDS. With rare exceptions, all substances used in the workplace must be documented by an MSDS, an information sheet that contains important information about the substance, including first aid to be taken in exposure. These sheets must be maintained by the employer and made available to all employees. In almost all cases, however, the suppliers of these substances have prepared an MSDS for each compound they sell and will supply them at no cost to the purchaser.

Despite OSHA regulations, industrial accidents still occur, and sometimes on a large scale. This usually happens because OSHA standards and regulations have been ignored; for example, despite many warnings about the dangers of airborne dust accumulation in industrial facilities, several dust explosions have occurred in the United States since the turn of the century, highlighting the need for greater attention to this dangerous situation. Although OSHA has become an accepted part of the American industrial environment, some employers still attempt to avoid the costs of OSHA safety compliance, sometimes with disastrous results.

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