The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. It requires employers covered by their standards to adopt practices that will keep the workers safe and to learn the OSHA rules that apply to their business. OSHA has both guidelines and standards, and guidelines are voluntary. Standards are required. According to OSHA, deaths have decreased by 60 percent and illnesses and injuries have decreased by 40 percent with the enactment of the OSHA laws.
Study the general standards and overview provided by OSHA to learn how OSHA applies to the American worker. “All About OSHA” is an overview that explains the policies and procedures, who is affected, and how they apply to the workplace. This booklet contains the foundation for understanding and learning OSHA regulations.
Review the extensive list of OSHA publications and see which are applicable to your workplace. Some publications are specific to an industry, like grain handling and scrap metal; others relate to small businesses, record keeping and special hazards like methylene chloride. Read the applicable publications to learn OSHA regulations. Study the fact sheets that relate to subjects concerning you or your employees, particularly in disaster and clean-up situations.
Rely on state publications if your state has an Occupational Health and Safety division approved by OSHA. These explain the nuances of state regulations and are important if you live in one of the 26 states with coverage. State plans usually cover private sector workers and state and local government employees. Federal OSHA standards cover federal workers and military and offshore workers, even if there is a state OSHA division in place.
Contact a Compliance Assistance Specialist at the OSHA area office near you for special questions or requests for specialized information. There is a Compliance Assistance Specialist in each area office available to answer questions and provide guidance. OSHA has 10 regional offices and 90 area offices throughout the United States available for assistance during the work week.
Request training by OSHA if your position justifies it. OSHA maintains a training center in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where OSHA employees, state compliance officers and employees, and private individuals and employers can receive training in basic and advanced safety and health directed at OSHA regulations. OSHA also provides grants to non-profit organizations to conduct workplace training and education, so watch for a training program in your area.