Understanding OSHA and Workplace Safety Guidelines

Safety of employees and visitors should be a priority in any workplace. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970 to set and enforce protective workplace safety and health standards, providing information, safety training, and assistance to workers and employers - in essence, to help guard against preventable workplace injuries.

As part of the United States Department of Labor, OSHA applies to most private sector employers and workers, as well as some public sector workers and employers, throughout the country and in certain territories and jurisdictions under federal authority, like the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.

OSHA Requirements ensure workplace safety

Because of OSHA, employers have a number of responsibilities they must fulfill to keep their employees informed and safe, such as providing required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers, keeping accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses, and finding and correcting safety and health hazards, among other responsibilities.

Employees also have a number of rights awarded to them through OSHA guidelines, including:

  • The right to safe working conditions, and 
  • The right to receive information and training about workplace hazards, methods to prevent harm and OSHA standards that apply to the workplace.

Compliance with safety guidelines is enforced

OSHA can conduct inspections without advance notice to evaluate a business’ compliance with OSHA guidelines. These inspections can happen for a number of reasons, including suspicion or knowledge of an imminent threat, catastrophes, inspections targeted at particular hazards, or worker complaints as referrals.

As an employee, you have the right to report if your workplace is not following OSHA guidelines and standards. An employee can file an OSHA complaint against the business, and OSHA inspectors will work to ensure the compliance issues are rectified. 

Whistleblower protection laws are in place to make it easier for individuals to raise concerns about the safety of their workplace without fear of retaliation. If an individual makes a complaint and feels they have been retaliated against as a result, they can file a whistleblower complaint for retaliation.

Some states have created their own OSHA plans. While Wisconsin abides by the federal guidelines, neighboring states like Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota have OSHA-approved state plans that may differ from the federal rules.

Injured at work?

If, despite OSHA regulations or because your employer has not followed those regulations, you have been injured at work, Attorney Rachel Fitzgerald can help you file a worker’s compensation claim and advocate for the compensation you deserve. 

Written by
Fitzgerald Law Firm