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What role does OSHA play in preventing workplace accidents?


Per federal and Pennsylvania state laws, employers are required to provide a safe working environment for their employees in order to avoid or prevent workplace accidents. If the working environment is deemed unsafe, a worker can file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and can choose to discontinue visiting the workplace until the complaint is addressed.

Employers are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, a federal statute, to sustain a workplace free of hazards that can lead to a workplace injury, illness or death. OSHA was established to enforce the ideals of this statute and also develop workplace safety standards and guidelines. OSHA has jurisdiction over private employers who conduct business with other states, which extends to include even those that operate through the U.S. Postal Service or through phone calls made to other states.

OSHA's operations are geared toward providing protection to workers against one-time injuries, known identified workplace hazards that can lead to severe injuries or can result in fatalities, as well as illnesses which may be a result of unsafe health conditions in the workplace.

In accordance with the law, employers are required to provide employees with a safe workplace, provide safety training for employees, and maintain records detailing deaths, injuries or exposure to injurious material in the workplace. It is also necessary for employers to put up an OSHA job safety notice where it can be seen and read by all employees.

In cases where a workplace safety hazard does not pose an immediate threat to an employee, they have the option to inform their employers in writing. However, if the employer fails or refuses to amend the problem, the employee can choose to approach OSHA and file a complaint.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Protecting Yourself from Unsafe Working Conditions," Accessed on Sept. 12, 2014

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