OSHA stands for The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the US Department of Labor Agency. It has been created by the US Congress under the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and signed by Richard Nixon in 1970. The primary goal of OSHA is to prevent and reduce all possible work-related injuries, sicknesses and deaths through the workplace safety and health regulations. OSHA applies to absolutely every place of employment and organization that hires people and can possibly have injuries at the workplace.
The authority of OSHA spreads to virtually all non-governmental organizations where people are employed. All government workers (employed by state or federal government) are excluded form Federal coverage by OSHA. Still, the states that operate their proper state workplace safety and health programs for public sector (local and state governments) under generally accepted and approved cover by the US department of Labor need have their programs adapted to the OSHA regulations. Still, one needs to remember that OSHA encourages each state to develop their own more sophisticated OSH programs to further benefit the workforce. OSHA is needed in virtually all organizations by the employees who want to enjoy healthy work conditions, free from hazards and harm. OSHA guarantees that a given place of employment is safe for the employees, unless the employer willfully violates the OSHA standards.
OSHA was imperative in the creation of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the organization responsible for the assessment of major types of hazards in the workplace and development of solutions to reduce the harms caused by these hazards (Finch, 2003).
Without OSHA approval, the states can develop their personal plans for safety and health of occupation yet only for public sector employees. The private sector employees (companies and business organizations) are covered by the Federal OSHA jurisdictions and have the most novel and sophisticated standards for job security working for them. Currently 24 different states chose to extend OSHA to both private and public sector employees in order to benefit from the high-level safety standards imposed by OSHA and save resources necessary for the development of different state standards.
Speaking about some controversies regarding OSHA, one needs to remember that OSHA regulations and enforcement policies cost a lot of money, while the benefit produced by OSHA is hard to assess and estimate in monetary terms. In 1995 it has been announced that OSHA standards are overestimated by different companies and regulated industries (Dennison 2002).
Another important controversy with OSHA is the criticism regarding the ineffectiveness of OSHA criminal penalties. OSHA at present can pursue criminal penalty ONLY when a willful violation of OSHA standards caused the death of an employee/worker. The maximum penalty for a willful violation of OSHA standards is only a misdemeanor with a maximum of six month imprisonment. To respond to the criticism OSHA entered into a cooperative alliance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an organization that has an ability to issue much higher fines than OSHA, and pursued several high-profile criminal prosecutions for the violation of OSHA act and standards. Various labor unions under the umbrella of the Democratic Party strive to revise the OSHA Act to make it a felony with much greater penalties for those organizations that willfully violate OSHA standards. As a result certain local prosecutors can charge the company executives with manslaughter and other felonies as a result of negligence and other violation of standards that contribute to high death rates of employees in certain industries (Carron, 2004).
Speaking about some particular impact of OSHA, one should note its requirements for needle sticks /syringes. The new safety engineering devise has been especially developed for preventing accidental ticking of hospital/clinic personnel with the needle. The newly developed cover is put on the needle and once the shot is done one can cover the needle with the safety cap with just a simple move of a finger. The cap accurately covers the needle and prevents an accidental trauma or tick.
In conclusion, I would like to note that we certainly need OSHA at every organization to improve the safety of the working conditions throughout the country. while most organizations care much about profits and revenues, only few care about the actual safety of common workers simply because they can find a substitute relatively easy. OSHA obliges companies to establish stringent safety standards and benefit workers of different positions. Currently OSHA is more regulatory than punitive due to the fact that the penalties for the deaths of workers are still relatively small. Its cooperation with the EPA already makes the fines more severe and cooperation with the labor unions and certain political activists is likely to further increase penalties to the violators of OSHA standards.
Bibliography: Finch, William (2003), Pocket Digest of OSHA Standards, Prentice Hall, pp. 90-92. Carron, Pamela (2002). OSHA Standards for the Construction Industry (29 CFR Part 1926), McGraw Hill, pp. 104-106. Dennison, Mark, (2002). OSHA and EPA Process Safety Management Requirements: A Practical Guide for Compliance (Industrial Health & Safety), NY Random House, pp. 231-232.
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