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Employee Safety: What Are My OSHA Obligations?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

If you're an employer that is unsure about what the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) law is, or what OSHA guidelines you should be following, a quick introduction may be necessary.

OSHA mandates that all employers engaged in business affecting commerce need to provide safe working conditions for their employees.

This means that employers need to be sure to remove hazardous or dangerous conditions, amongst other things. Do you know what your obligations are under OSHA?

Be familiar with OSHA guidelines. As an employer, you need to be sure that you are following OSHA guidelines, which are federal law. In particular, you need to be able to know what guidelines and regulations are applicable to your workplace, and have copies available for employees who request them.

Keep records of injuries and illnesses. Businesses with 11 employees or more at any time during a calendar year are required to keep records of occupational injuries and illnesses. Some businesses are not required to keep records, such as those in retail trade, finance, insurance, real estate and service industries.

Display OSHA's Safe and Healthful workplaces poster. Employers are required to post this poster, or its state equivalent, somewhere where employees can look over the information.

Inform employees about hazardous chemicals. If your business uses hazardous chemicals, you need to inform your employees about these hazards and train them on proper safeguards.

Remember also that your business is subject to inspection. Employees have the right to contact a local or state OSHA office to request an inspection if there is a hazard or danger in the workplace.

And, of course, the above list is not exhaustive of all employer obligations under OSHA. Contacting an attorney who is familiar with OSHA laws and OSHA guidelines can also be helpful if you are being inspected, or if an employee has decided to file suit against you for any workplace safety conditions.

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