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The Occupational Safety and Health Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 29, 1970. The purpose of this Act was to ensure worker and workplace safety by requiring employers to provide workplaces that are free from known safety and health hazards, including:

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Mechanical dangers
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • Excessive levels of noise
  • Heat or cold stress

To establish workplace health and safety standards, the Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Additionally, the Act created the independent agency of Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).

Responsibilities of OSHA, NIOSH and OSHRC

OSHA’s purpose is to create, administer and enforce compliance of workplace standards in all 50 states. As a part of the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA also provides employers with additional standards that they must comply with above the General Duty Clause of the Act that requires employers to keep their workplace free of serious recognized hazards.

NIOSH’s purpose is to conduct research and make recommendations to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. This agency is a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

OSHRC’s purpose is to decide contests of citations or penalties for workplaces that have been assessed for violations found during an OSHA inspection. This Review Commission provides a two-tiered administrative court that:

  • Conducts hearings, receives evidence and renders decisions made by its Administrative Law Judges (ALJs)
  • Provides a discretionary review of decisions made by the ALJs with its panel of Commissioners

Employers are required to report workplace injuries and illnesses to OSHA. The OSH Act continues to work toward improving the health and safety of employees since its inception.

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A decision was made on March 1st, allowing an OSHA rule to be overturned. The Volks rule entailed that employers must keep injury and illness-related work records for a period of five years. However, some felt that this rule did nothing to improve safety and was intrusive. H.J. Res 83, the name of this resolution, was approved by a vote of 231-191.

Those who voted for the resolution to be passed were vocal about their discontent with the Volks rule. Bradley Bryne, a republican chairman, accused OSHA of making a “power grab” and would go on to state that the Volks Rule “does nothing to improve workplace safety.” However, there are still steps that must be completed for this resolution to become fully official.

Currently, the resolution will now be presented to the Senate for an official action to be made. Should the resolution continue to gain momentum, there is the possibility that it could become officially adopted. However, this resolution would still need to be signed off on by President Trump.

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OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was created by Congress in 1970. Since its creation, OSHA has been making workplaces safer for over four decades. Extremely minor workplace injuries that don’t require first aid are not usually deemed to be a recordable injury. An injury that impairs the employee’s ability to effectively perform their job is deemed recordable. In addition, an injury that causes damaged bones, punctured eardrums, irreversible disease, or fatality are all examples of recordable injuries.

Records aren’t only in place to help injured employees, this data is reported to OSHA for purpose of keeping records of business statistics. There are different rules regarding time frames of reporting certain injuries. For example, an employer must report a fatality involving a worker within eight hours. However, if the incident only involved loss of limb, the employer has 24 hours to report the incident.

OSHA continues to monitor how businesses prevent workplace injuries and deaths from occurring. Ensuring injury reports are kept up to date and accurate must be of the utmost importance for any business owner.

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