A FEW BLOG ARTICLES BACK, we wrote about the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor. In our introduction, we stated that “MSHA … basically is for the mining industry … what OSHA … is for all other workplace environments.”
This presents a grand opportunity to now tell everyone more about OSHA, an acronym (pronounced oh-shuh) that is much more familiar to American adults than MSHA (pronounced em-shuh). OSHA is VERY familiar to the management of Safety Solutions & Supply and our instructors. It’s foundational to the safety courses we teach and foundational to our instructors’ qualifications and certifications. It’s very rare when one of our classes is taught without at least one reference to OSHA.
Like MSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is an agency of the federal Labor department. And, like MSHA, OSHA is a creation of the U.S. Congress. While MSHA was established in 1977, OSHA was created in 1971. MSHA was founded by Congress to administer the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. OSHA was formed in 1971 after Congress passed, and then-President Nixon signed, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the OSH Act) in late 1970. OSHA was formed to administer the provisions of the health and safety act, which was a direct result of public outcry against rising workplace injury and death rates.
The connection — the partnership — Safety Solutions & Supply has with OSHA and its policies — and, too, with MSHA — now is quite evident. Our team and the much, much larger OSHA team have the same goals — most notably to help companies keep their employees safe and fit for work. OSHA does this with the power of federal law and agency regulations — and the consequence of penalties if those regulations aren’t followed — as well as with education and outreach. We do our safety building through classroom instruction, based significantly on OSHA standards; practical training; and consultation with company owners, managers, and safety coordinators.
Here a few key facts, figures and dates about and related to OSHA:
• OSHA was created, with passage of the OSH Act, to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.
• At the time the OSH Act was being considered, American occupational injuries and illnesses were increasing in both number and severity. Disabling injuries increased 20 percent during the decade of the 1960s, and 14,000 workers were dying on the job each year.
• Key sponsors of the OSH Act, also called the Williams-Steiger Act, were New Jersey Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr. and U.S. Rep. William A. Steiger.
• “The knowledge that the industrial accident situation is deteriorating, rather than improving, underscores the need for action now,” Williams said at the time. He called attention to the need to protect workers against such hazards as noise, cotton dust, and asbestos, all now covered by OSHA standards.
• “In the last 25 years, more than 400,000 Americans were killed by work-related accidents and disease, and close to 50 million more suffered disabling injuries on the job,” Steiger said during debate about the act. “Not only has this resulted in incalculable pain and suffering for workers and their families, but such injuries have cost billions of dollars in lost wages and production.”
• The OSH Act established three permanent agencies – OSHA, to set and enforce workplace safety and health standards; the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in what was then the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, to conduct research on occupational safety and health; and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, an independent agency to rule on enforcement actions challenged by employers.
• As part of the U.S. Labor department, the OSHA administrator is the assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health (Loren Sweatt, as of July 24, 2017) OSHA’s administrator answers to the secretary of Labor, a member of the Cabinet of the president of the United States.
• The OSH Act covers most private-sector employers and their workers, in addition to some public-sector employers and workers in the 50 states and certain territories and jurisdictions under federal authority.
• Before OSHA existed, most American workers did not have access to the legal right to a safe workplace.
• OSHA reports that occupational injuries and illnesses cost employers more than $53 billion a year — more than $1 billion a week — in workers’ compensation costs alone.
• In 1971, the year OSHA was formed, the National Safety Council estimated that 38 workers died on the job every day of the year. Today, 46 years later, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts that number at 12 per day — with American workforce nearly twice the size of the 1971 workforce.
• The OSHA Training Institute was established in January 1972 to instruct OSHA inspectors and the public.
• In November and December 1972, South Carolina, Montana, and Oregon became the first states approved to run their own OSHA programs.
• In February 1980, a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Whirlpool affirmed workers’ rights to engage in safety and health-related activities.
• In November 1983, OSHA’s hazard communication standard was issued to provide information and training and labeling of toxic materials for manufacturing employers and employees. Other industries are added in August 1987.
• In September 1989, OSHA’s standard on lockout/tagout of hazardous energy sources was issued to protect 39 million workers from unexpected activation or startup of machines or equipment, preventing 120 deaths and 50,000 injuries each year.
• In September 1995, OSHA formally launched its expanded Web page (www.osha.gov) to provide agency standards and compliance assistance via the Internet.
• OSHA has 7 million workplaces to monitor and is responsible for about 130 million workers.
• OSHA and its state partners have roughly 2,400 inspectors and about 550 state consultants , plus complaint discrimination investigators, engineers, physicians, educators, standard writers, and other technical and support personnel spread over more than 130 offices throughout the country.
• In 2013, OSHA had a budget of $563.7 million. The proposed 2018 budget for OSHA was $543 million.
• An average OSHA safety inspection takes 22 hours.
For details about the wide-ranging and OSHA-backed safety training offered by Safety Solutions & Supply in Mulberry, Fla., and Gonzales, La., go to https://solutionsinsafety.com/training/. For an up-to-date class schedule, go to https://solutionsinsafety.com/upcoming-events/. Our toll-free phone number is 1-866-537-2262.
Sources for this article:
• OSHA at 30: Three Decades of Progress in Occupational Safety and Health (https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/osha-at-30.html)
• About OSHA
• Facts About OSHA (https://www.graphicproducts.com/articles/facts-about-osha/)
• Associated Wire Rope Fabricators: 10 Facts About OSHA (https://awrf.org/2014/12/31/10-facts-about-osha/)
• Safety+Health magazine (http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/)