Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA)
Did you know that there is an organization called “Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)” that secures employee’s rights and safety at the workplace? Knowing and following these rights are mandatory for both employees and employers. In this article, you’ll learn about OSHA Act, four main groups of OSHA standards and some examples of OSHA standards that every employer needs to know.
According to the US Department of Labor, Worker Protection is the Law of the Land. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The OSH Act has created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. OSHA also provides sensitive and critical information, training, and assistance to employers and workers. Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe and healthful workplace that is free from serious recognized hazards, which is commonly known as the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. There are rules set for safety at the workplace by OSHA that are useful for both employers and workers.
Four Main Groups of OSHA Standards
These standards are rules that describe the methods that employers must use to protect their employees from hazards. There are four groups of OSHA standards: General Industry, Construction, Maritime, and Agriculture. (General Industry is the set that applies to the vastest number of workers and worksites).
What is General Industry OSHA?
OSHA uses the term “general industry” to refer to all industries not included in agriculture, construction, or maritime. General industries are regulated by OSHA’s general industry standards, directives, and standard interpretations. It is generally accepted that these places of business are static in nature and do not include the industries.
What is Construction OSHA?
Construction is a high hazard industry that comprises a wide range of activities involving construction, alteration, and repair. Construction workers engage in many activities that may expose them to serious hazards, such as falling from rooftops, unguarded machinery, being struck by heavy construction equipment, electrocutions, silica dust, and asbestos.
What is Maritime OSHA?
The maritime industry includes the construction, repair, and scrapping of vessels, as well as the movement of cargo and other materials. Hazards include slips, falls, machinery and equipment hazards, hazardous chemicals, confined/enclosed spaces, and fire hazards. The implementation of controls, procedures, and training helps raise awareness of potential hazards and ways to keep workers safe.
What is Agriculture OSHA?
Agriculture is a major industry in the U.S. and includes growing and harvesting crops such as corn, cotton, soybeans, and fruit, as well as livestock, poultry, and other animals to provide products such as beef, chicken eggs, dairy, and wool.
Farmworkers are at high risk for fatalities and injuries, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin diseases, and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure.
These four groups of standards are designed to protect workers from a wide range of hazards. These standards also limit the extent of hazardous chemicals, substances, or noise, that workers can be exposed to; require the use of certain safe work practices and equipment. It also requires employers to monitor certain hazards and keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses.
Worker’s rights at the workplace
- In case of any concerns about hazardous material at work, employees have the right to speak up about them without any fear of retaliation.
- Employees have the right to be trained in a language that you understand;
- Work on safe machines;
- Be provided with required safety gear, such as gloves or a harness and lifeline for falls;
- Be protected from toxic chemicals;
- Request an OSHA inspection, and speak to the inspector about any question they have;
- Report an injury or illness to the supervisor and get copies of medical records; See copies of the workplace injury and illness log; Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses, and; Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace.
OSHA Standards that Every Employer Needs to Know:
- Provide workers with safety equipment, depending on the tasks, such as fall protection, safety harness and lifeline; respirators, goggles, earplugs, gloves, or other types of personal protective equipment (in almost all cases, free of charge)
- Ensure the safety of workers who enter confined spaces such as manholes or grain bins;
- Inform employers about work hazards with warning signs, color coding and signals
- Prevent exposure to high levels of noise that can damage hearing
- Put guards on machines which might cause hazards
- Prevent exposure to harmful levels of substances like asbestos and lead
- Provide healthcare workers with needles and sharp instruments that have built-in safety features to prevent skin punctures or cuts that could cause exposure to infectious diseases
- Train workers and provide information about the hazards at the workplace in a language they understand
- Employers must also comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. This clause requires employers to keep their workplaces free of serious recognized hazards and is generally cited when no specific OSHA standard applies to the hazard.
How to be trained on OSHA’s Standards
Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center (SNOHC) provides information and training for employers and employees about OSHA rules and regulations. There is also a wide range of occupational health and safety services provided at SNOHC such as injury treatment, fit for duty, respiratory tests, drug and blood tests, asbestos exam, auditory test, and many more.
Dr. Amir Nicknam, the founder of SNOHC, is a board-certified family practice physician with over 15 years of clinical experience in Occupational Medicine in Las Vegas. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).
For more information, please visit the Southern Nevada Occupational Health Center website at www.snohc.com