Workplace safety is a commonly used phrase that many do not consider until an accident occurs within the workplace. Throughout the U.S., workplace injuries occur on a daily basis. This has been an issue in the workforce for many years and is still an ongoing issue. Are there laws that protect employees from an unsafe work environment; what is the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA); and how did the labor unions affect the law? In this paper these following questions will be addressed, as well as the background and driving force of OSHA.
Definition of the OSHA Law
According to the OSHA website, www.osha.gov , retrieved August 27, 2004, it states
“OSHA's mission is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health”. In addition, as of the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, each employer shall furnish his employees a place of employment free from recognized hazards that cause and/or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees; before the enactment employers were only bound by common law to provide a safe work environment for its employees.
OSHA also enforces that employees are not exempt and shall comply with occupational safety and health standards under this Act. Employee conduct, must comply with the OSHA rules and regulations and orders which are applicable to their own action and conduct (Bennett-Alexander-Hartman: Employment Law for Business, Fourth Edition, p 690 p. 2-3).
Background and Driving Force
Getting started, the impetus to OSHA was to develop a new safety and or health standard in the workforce. Congress collected information indicating the status quo in the working environment included unacceptable hazards in the workplace. The OSHA act was passed through congress based on a series of information collected through sources such as the Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS); National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH); Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Substances Control Act (TOSCA) referral; public petitions; or requests from OSHA advisory committees.
Empowered with the knowledge of existing workplace hazards and the awareness of the lack of legislation requiring employee/employer protection, a goal was established to reduce work place injuries. The OSHA advisory committee proposed the act and it was passed through Congress in 1971. “Since its inception in 1971, OSHA has helped to cut workplace fatalities by more than 60 percent and occupational injury and illness rates by 40 percent.” (www.osha.gov). In effort to reduce work place injuries, OSHA has also established processes intended to shorten the rulemaking timetable and discourage legal challenges to the final standard, while at the same time...