In 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was founded and has had a great effect on the workplace safety. There has been a remarkable reduction in the fatality and injury rates. Despite the lack of accurate statistics in the 1970s, it is approximated that 14,000 employees were killed while doing their work. This number reduced to around 4,340 in 2009 (OSHA, 2017). The United States workforce has increased with there being more than 130 million workers in over 7.2 million workstations. Since the OSH Act was instituted, there has been a significant decline in the occurrence of severe workplace injuries and illnesses. This number is estimated to have reduced from 11 per 100 employees in 1972 to approximately 3.6 per 100 workers in 2009. The standards have helped in the prevention of many work-related, illnesses, injuries and deaths.
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act was founded to ensure a safe environment for America's workers. There is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration whose purpose is enforcing OSH law. OSHA is mandated with the tasks of ensuring organizations have a safe workplace that is devoid of the recognized hazards and thereby enhancing health and safety in the work environment (White, n.d). This also results in a significant minimization of the occurrence of work injuries, fatalities and illnesses. OSHA has various programs that have been formulated to achieve these goals.
Many OSHA standards need to be observed in the workplace. There is fall protection, construction standards which details the requirements for the employers in the provision of fall protection equipment. The employer is required to establish the strength and integrity of work surfaces for sufficient support to workers (Duty to have fall protection, 2017). There is the installation of guardrails, safety nets or personal arrest systems for employees when on working surfaces that are 6feet or more and characterized by sides and edges that are not protected. The employer is supposed to adhere to all requirements under this standard. Another standard is the hazard communication standard which seeks to ensure the clear classification of all hazards of all chemicals that are being manufactured or imported (Hazard Communication, 2017). The employers are required to classify potential chemical hazards, communicate this information and ensure necessary protective precautions for the employees. This can be observed by formulating a written hazard communication program for the work environment. It includes providing lists or hazardous chemicals, labeling chemical containers. There is also need to prepare and distribute safety data sheers to all the employees. Additionally, the employer is also required to institute an employee training program concerning the chemical hazards and the necessary protective measures. There is also the respiratory protection standard which seeks to control the occupational diseases resulting from breathing contaminated air (Respiratory Protection, 2017). Some of the common contaminants include harmful fogs, fumes, dust, smoke, sprays, and mists among others. In this cases, the employer is required to install accepted engineering control measures. Such include the construction of enclosures or confinement of operations, ensuring appropriate ventilation and using less toxic substances. When the feasibility of these precautions is not possible, the employer is necessitated to avail respirators to the employees. This standard mandates that the employer must provide employees with a respirator when necessary and for the intended purpose. The employer also needs to establish and maintain a protection program in the workplace.
An example of an organization that was found in violation of OSHA standards is Tyson Foods. The company was accused of four workplace safety violations. This was after a serious injury to an employee's hand by an unguarded machine. The organization was at fault in the removal of and failure to train its employees in appropriate lockout procedures. It is reported that the company did not ensure safety procedures which shows a lack of commitment which resulted in a serious injury (Allen & Burke, 2013). When OSHA learned of the case where a workers hand was amputated, there was an inspection of the organization. The issues that were noted included the removal of the guarding on the conveyor resulting into the exposure of employees to rotating parts. The violations noted included failure to train employees appropriately and exposure of the workers to amputation hazards. Another violation included failure to construct fixed stairs to access the working areas. Lastly, there was lack of legible markings on the levers of organization's forklifts. The consequences included a fine of $147,000 and placement into OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program whose function is assessing inspections to ensure compliance.
In conclusion, the agency's purpose is to promote safe working conditions for the workers. To ensure this, the agency sets and implements standards in addition to the provision of training, education, and support. OSHA is also mandated with enhancing the diversity of regulations and whistleblowers statutes. The agency also fines those organizations that do not adhere to OSHA standards.
Allen, S., & Burke, R. (2013). Tyson Foods cited by US Labor Department's OSHA for 4 workplace safety violations after worker's hand severed by unguarded machine | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Osha.gov. Retrieved 11 April 2018, from https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region7/12172013
Duty to have fall protection. - 1926.501 | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2017). Osha.gov. Retrieved 11 April 2018, from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=10757
Hazard Communication. - 1910.1200 | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2017). Osha.gov. Retrieved 11 April 2018, from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=10099
Respiratory Protection. - 1910.134 | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2017). Osha.gov. Retrieved 11 April 2018, from https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=12716
Timeline | Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2017). Osha.gov. Retrieved 11 April 2018, from https://www.osha.gov/osha40/timeline.html
White, M. (n.d). What Is the Purpose of OSHA? | LoveToKnow. LoveToKnow. Retrieved 11 April 2018, from http://safety.lovetoknow.com/What_Is_the_Purpose_of_OSHA
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