Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

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Almost all private sector industries, and some in the public sector, are subject to the rules and regulations promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  OSHA was created in 1970 with the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  OSHA is a segment of the Department of Labor and the head of OSHA is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.  The Assistant Secretary reports to the Secretary of Labor and ultimately the President of the United States.

Workers can ask OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a violation of a health or safety standard, if there is any danger that threatens physical harm, or if an imminent danger exists.  A worker needs only to fill out an online complaint form, call up the office, or download a complaint form, then fax or mail it to OSHA.  OSHA recommends that workers first try to resolve their issues within their companies first, but will accept a request for an inspection or investigation anytime.  An employee does need to know what specific regulation was violated, but OSHA does have suggestions for the kind of information they need proceed.  These suggestions can be found on their website at https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/worker/complain.html.

OSHA is charged with ensuring worker safety above all else.  They are precluded by statute from considering other factors such as cost-benefit analysis.  The agency may be slow to act at times, but when it does it acts to protect every worker, not just a reasonable percentage.

Small business owners can be alarmed by the scope of OSHA’s actions.  The agency is aware of small business concerns and created a few programs to help small businesses comply with regulations more easily.  OSHA offers a free on-site consultation program for small and medium businesses for advice on how to identify workplace hazards and comply with OSHA standards.  The consultation is confidential and does not result in penalties or citations.  OSHA specialists will also conduct seminars and training programs to help teach small business owners how to comply with OSHA regulations.

Companies which are found in violation of OSHA standards will be subject to punishment.    A deadline will be established to correct the violations and serious violations will be accompanied by a monetary fine.  Furthermore, violations will be publicly disclosed via press release.

Whether you are an employee concerned about a violation or an employer in need of representation before OSHA, you can contact Stone Law at 732-444-6303 or leave us a message on our website.