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OSHA Questions and Answers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that sets national standards to ensure the safety and health of America's workers

OSHA's mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Since the agency was created in 1971, occupational deaths have been cut by about 60% and injuries have declined by 42%.

How and when was OSHA created?

Congress created OSHA under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which was signed by President Richard M. Nixon on December 29, 1970.

How many work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths occur each year in the United States?

In 2020, there were 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses among U.S. private industry workers. Approximately 2.7 of every 100 workers experienced a job-related injury or illness. In 2019, 5,933 workers lost their lives on the job. For context, one worker dies every 99 minutes from a work-related injury. For more information, go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Website, Safety and Health Statistics page.

What is OSHA's budget, and how many inspectors does the agency have?

OSHA's budget for Fiscal Year 2021 was $591.8 million. The agency has a staff of 1,850 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers. Twenty-two states run their own OSHA State Programs.

What are OSHA's inspection priorities?

The top priority is reports of imminent dangers-accidents about to happen. Second is fatalities or accidents serious enough to send three or more workers to the hospital. Third priority is employee complaints. Referrals from other government agencies is fourth.

Fifth is targeted inspections-such as the Site-Specific Targeting Program, which focuses on employers that report high injury and illness rates, and special emphasis programs that zero in on hazardous work such as trenching or equipment such as mechanical power presses. Follow-up inspections are the final priority.

What's the penalty for violating an OSHA standard?

OSHA penalties can start at $13,653 per violation, depending upon how likely the violation is to result in serious harm to workers. Less serious violations can result in no penalties but require changes in the workplace.

Penalties may be discounted if an employer has a small number of employees, has demonstrated good faith, or has few or no previous violations. For more information on OSHA penalties, see Section 17 of the OSH Act or information on penalties.

What if OSHA inspects my workplace and I disagree with the findings?

Employers have the right to contest OSHA citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Employers must file notices of contest within 15 working days of being issued citations.

Who must keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses?

Employers with 10 or more employees must keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. Workplaces in low-hazard industries such as retail, service, finance, insurance, and real estate are exempt from recordkeeping requirements. For more information on recordkeeping, click here.

Do I need to put up an OSHA poster in my workplace? Where can I get a copy?

Yes, all employers must post the federal or a state OSHA poster to provide their employees with information on their safety and health rights. You may order a printed copy from the OSHA Publications Office at (800) 321-OSHA or download one from OSHA in English or Spanish.

How can I get help from OSHA to fix hazards in my workplace?

If you are an employer, you may wish to contact the OSHA Consultation Program for your state for free on-site assistance in identifying and correcting hazards or setting up safety and health programs. You can also contact the OSHA Area Office nearest you to speak to the compliance assistance specialist about training and education in job safety and health issues.

If you are a worker, you can call the nearest OSHA Area Office, or you can file a complaint online through the OSHA Workers' Page.

How can I get workplace safety and health training from OSHA?

You can contact the nearest OSHA Area Office to speak to the compliance assistance specialist. You also can check out training available at the OSHA Training Institute in the Chicago area or at one of the 20 education centers located at colleges and universities around the nation.

OSHA Partnerships

The OSHA Strategic Partnership Program is for employers with varied backgrounds, experience, and records in job safety and health. Participants in OSPP share a common commitment to improving workplace safety and health. These partnerships merge the creative ideas and resources of OSHA and stakeholders. OSPP emphasizes training and education in a voluntary, cooperative atmosphere. Tracking results is key to these partnerships.

Have Specific OSHA Questions? Talk to a Local Attorney

While this article about OSHA questions and answers may be comprehensive, it might not be able to answer all your questions about OSHA and workplace safety issues. Sometimes talking to a legal expert is the best course of action. So, don't hesitate, contact an experienced employment lawyer near you today.

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