What is OSHA and How Do they Protect Workers?

OSHA is a federal agency that was founded alongside the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970. The OSH Act sought to protect the rights of workers and to offer long-term solutions for regulating workplace hazards.

Following the success of the OSH Act, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. The sole mission of OSHA is "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."

OSHA is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, whose administrators report directly to the Secretary of Labor. States have the option of developing their own OSHA-approved state-run programs focused directly on job safety and health; however, some states choose to have their workers covered by federal OSHA regulations. Colorado is one of those states, with offices in Englewood and Denver.

Who does OSHA Protect?

OSHA serves most private sector employers and employees. The organization also monitors federal employers and employees. The only difference between the two is that OSHA cannot fine a federal agency.

Workers who aren't covered by OSHA include those who work for state or local governments, are self-employed, or work in an industry whose jobs require regulation by a separate federal agency (such as Mine Safety and Health Administration or the Federal Aviation Administration). Also, in Colorado, farms with less than 10 employees are not regulated by OSHA standards.

What does OSHA do?

OSHA sets industry health and safety standards for a variety of job fields. These job fields may include construction work, hospital employment, maritime operations, etc. The agency goes beyond simply setting workplace standards; OSHA also trains employers on workplace health and safety. The aim of the agency is to prevent workplace injuries or deaths before they occur by educating employers about potential hazards in the workplace.

OSHA also monitors and inspects work environments to hold employers accountable for creating safe and healthy workplaces. If employers who are under the jurisdiction of OSHA are noncompliant according to OSHA standards, the company may fine an employer for violating workers' rights.

What are your Worker's Rights?

As an American worker, you have the right to work in an environment that is both safe and healthy. If an employer violates this right in anyway, workers may file a complaint with OSHA. The agency will then inspect the workplace to find any evidence that suggests an unsafe or unhealthy environment for employees.

Employees also have the right to report workplace injuries. Employers are required to have a process in place that allows workers to report any on-the-job injuries. If this process is not established, or if an employer impedes the process, workers may then report directly to OSHA. 

Employees should never be worried about reporting workplace hazards or injuries. Under OSHA regulations, employers CANNOT discriminate against employees who have filed complaints with OSHA. Employees are protected by their OSHA rights against employer retaliation.

Recovering from work-related injuries or hazards can be difficult physically, mentally and financially, but knowing your rights can help you get the compensation you deserve. The Babcock Law Firm is willing to help workers who are facing work injuries or hazards.

Contact us if you're interested in discussing the details a possible workers' compensation case. You may also browse our knowledge center for more information about workers' rights and how representation works.

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