• Management Tips

What Is OSHA, Its Purpose and Function

Ensuring the safety and well-being of workers has been a cornerstone of safety management in the United States. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), established in 1970 with the passage of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, plays a pivotal role in this ongoing effort.

In this article, we explore the history and purpose of OSHA, and review essential considerations for business owners navigating the regulatory landscape. Including whether you need dedicated safety management system to maintain OSHA compliance.

Prior to OSHA, the American workplace lacked a complete regulatory framework to address safety concerns. Employees often faced dangerous conditions without adequate protection. The inception of OSHA marked a paradigm shift in how we address workplace hazards and related issues.

So what is the purpose of OSHA? The agency has committed to protecting workers from hazards and fostering a culture of safety across diverse industries. Its existence helps ensure safe, healthy job conditions for every employee.

Over the years, the purpose of OSHA has evolved to address emerging challenges and adapt to the changing nature of work. While its early focus was on comprehensive standards, OSHA has shifted towards a more collaborative approach. The OSHA standards today facilitate partnerships with industries, voluntary compliance programs, and proactive safety measures.

In another shift, OSHA increasingly relies on technology for its enforcement efforts. The agency uses data analytics to target inspections more effectively, prioritizing workplaces with a higher likelihood of hazards or non-compliance. This approach allows OSHA to allocate its resources more efficiently.

Read more: Paper vs. Digital: Why It’s More Secure to Manage Your Safety Documentation with Software

OSHA now promotes a proactive approach to improving workplace safety by encouraging the adoption of Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPPs). 

IIPPs involve systematic processes for employers to identify and control hazards, communicate safety policies to employees, and continuously evaluate and improve safety measures. With this strategy, your business can prevent incidents rather than simply responding when they occur.

The Role of OSHA in the Workplace

We’ve covered what is the main purpose of OSHA, but how does the agency fulfill its mission? These are a few of the roles OSHA takes in the modern employment landscape.

Setting and Enforcing Standards

OSHA establishes regulations that dictate how employers must safeguard their workers and makes sure businesses follow these rules.

OSHA standards cover a wide spectrum, addressing hazards from chemical exposures to machinery safety and beyond.

Conducting Inspections

A primary function of OSHA is the inspection of job sites to enforce compliance with applicable standards.

The agency may initiate workplace inspections based on complaints about safety. It also conducts targeted programs and creates safety protocols for specific industries as well as routine assessments to ensure workplace safety.

Providing Safety Education and Training

OSHA emphasizes the importance of safety training programs to empower both employers and employees.

The agency offers educational resources such as the OSHA Training Institute Education Centers. It also produces online materials and holds outreach initiatives to enhance knowledge about workplace safety and safety reports.

Consulting with Business Owners

Small and medium-sized businesses can benefit from OSHA’s consultation services.

These free services help companies identify workplace hazards and improve their safety management systems without the fear of citations.

The Impact of OSHA Over Time

Now in its sixth decade of existence, OSHA has significantly reduced workplace injuries and fatalities. The overall number of safety incidents has also declined as employers have shifted their focus to proactive worker protection.

OSHA reports that the rate of serious job-related illnesses and injuries decreased from 10.9 incidents for every 100 workers in 1972 to 2.7 in 2021. At the same time, the American workforce has more than doubled, highlighting the dramatic effect of the 1970 law on job safety.Beyond the function and purpose of OSHA to protect workers, the agency has empowered employees with the right to a safe workplace. Employees can request inspection by the agency without fear of retaliation. This system encourages the entire team to actively engage and participate in creating a safer workplace.

The Ultimate Guide
to Safety Inspections
Essential tools, customizable templates, and expert tactics to help you improve your inspection process

What Business Owners Should Know About OSHA

OSHA regulations apply to the majority of private businesses. Many public sector employers also have to abide by these standards under federal law.

Following these tips can help you navigate workplace safety and take advantage of available OSHA resources.

Understanding Compliance Requirements

Business owners must have a clear understanding of OSHA compliance requirements applicable to their industry.

You should become familiar with OSHA standards, safety compliance checklist requirements and regularly review updates or changes, and make sure your workplace meets the specified safety criteria.

Creating a Culture of Safety

Beyond compliance, business owners should actively build a culture of safety within their organizations.

Employers should promote open safetycommunication about safety concerns, encourage employees to actively participate in safety programs, and designate worker safety as a core value of the business.

Using OSHA Resources

OSHA provides a wealth of resources to help businesses comply with regulations and improve workplace safety.

Business owners should take advantage of consultation services, training programs, and the extensive library of online materials to stay informed and address compliance concerns and safety reports.

Cooperating with OSHA Inspections

In the event of an OSHA inspection, business owners should cooperate fully with inspectors.

Prepare to provide access to the workplace, offer details about safety metrics, answer questions, and address identified hazards promptly. Cooperation demonstrates a commitment to workplace safety and can contribute to a positive resolution.

Staying Informed About Changes

OSHA standards and regulations may evolve, so you should strive to remain updated.

Business owners can subscribe to OSHA newsletters, attend industry-specific safety conferences, and regularly review OSHA’s website.

Connecting with the Purpose of OSHA

As the purpose of OSHA continues to adapt to the changing dynamics of the workforce, business owners can partner with the agency to prioritize safety. 

You can also partner with Fluix for the software tools you need to record relevant safety data and review key metrics. Book a call today to find out more about how our user-friendly platform fits into your company’s safety program.

Discover How Fluix Can Help Improve Your Workplace Safety and Compliance
Our team is here to help