Looking abroad – How is work safety regulated in the United States?

by Employment Blawg on March 28, 2013

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Guest post regarding regulation of work safety in the United States.

In the United States, every law and regulation that is mandated for the workplace falls under the Department of Labor’s (DOL) jurisdiction, or one of its sub-agencies. The Department of Labor handles everything from wages and pensions, to the health and safety of workers in United States. In regards to workplace health and safety, the two most notable sub-agencies of the DOL are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA-approved state programs, regulate health and safety issues for most private and public industries in the United States. The agency was developed by Congress with the passing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act). The Act can be researched as Public Law 91-596, 84 STAT. 1590, 91st Congress, S.2193, December 29, 1970, as amended through January 1, 2004. Employers that fall under the OSH Act are required to uphold OSHA regulations and provide a work environment free of serious hazards.

OSHA’s current projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

Crane Operator Certification Discussions

Three meetings will be held on crane operator certification requirements, focusing on effectiveness of certification ensuring safe operation of equipment. Discussions will include the risks of allowing a certified operator to use all cranes in a specified class.

Preventing Falls in Construction

A nationwide campaign to prevent fatal fall injuries and death in the construction industry. OSHA has distributed posters in bus stations across the country explaining the dangers of working from heights and proper safety equipment.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration was created in 1978 after the The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 was passed. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 was amended in 2006 becoming the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act. The Act can be researched as Public Law 91–173, As Amended Through P.L. 109–280, Enacted August 17, 2006. The agency’s purpose is to prevent injury, disease, and death by providing healthful workplaces for miners .

Further regulations as set by the Department of Labor, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 29 – Labor, Parts 0- 4999, with health and safety specifically located in Parts 1900- 2499.

Slips, trips and falls account for the majority of general industry accidents. Floors and walkways should always be clean, dry and free of debris. Recognizably, some work environments are more prone to slips and falls, for example, dish-washing areas in restaurants where water coats the floor constantly. Proper non-slip footwear should be provided by the employer, and worn by all employees. Employees should be properly trained to recognize and handle the potential dangers of their environment. Consult OSHA for information and training materials on preventing slip, trip, fall accidents.

Slip, Trip, Fall Statistics:

  • Over 540,000 slip, trip, fall injuries requiring hospital care occur every year in the United States.
  • Slip, trip, fall accidents rank number one in types of workplace accidents, accounting for 57% of all injuries.
  • Slip, trip, fall is the leading cause of death and disability in the workplace.

It is advisable for employers to focus on preventing accidents in the workplace with training, personal protective equipment, safety signs such as exit signs etc. In the event of employee injury, there are a number of things that employers must consider. Replacement of an employee during recuperation, the cost of medical bills, and potential fines from OSHA (assuming the accident was preventable), just to name a few. It is simpler and more cost-effective to maintain proper safety procedures and equipment.

Employment Blawg

Employment Blawg

Employment law blogger at LabourBlawg
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