Overview: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the division of the Department of Labor in charge of creating and enforcing workplace safety and health. With limited exceptions, OSHA regulates almost all private industry workers in states that do not have their own, OSHA-approved state plan.
OSHA creates regulations for several specific industries, as well as general regulations for all industries; it conducts inspections of workplaces to make sure employers are complying with applicable standards; and it issues citations for violations. To make compliance easier, OSHA also offers many compliance programs to help employers create safer workplaces and to encourage and recognize the workplaces that go above and beyond, as well as to put extra pressure on those workplaces that consistently fail to follow the regulations.
Along with the health and safety regulations, OSHA also has several recordkeeping and posting requirements that almost all regulated employers must follow. Most employers that fall under OSHA must fill out the OSHA logs every year, as well as post a total injury and illness record in a conspicuous place every year from February 1 to April 30. At all times, employers must have the OSHA Job Safety and Health: It's the Law poster hanging in the workplace.
Trends: OSHA recently updated its Hazard Communication Standard to better conform to the Globally Harmonized System. With a series of rolling deadlines, employers need to update their written programs, training requirements, safety data sheets and labels and warnings.
Author: Ashley Shaw, JD, Legal Editor
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HR guidance on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).