OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) is a regulatory agency that oversees the assurance of the safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women. OSHA does this by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1971; by encouraging and assisting the States in their efforts to assure healthy and safe working conditions; by providing for education, information, research, and training in the field of occupational safety and health. OSHA does not set science guidelines or review training courses.
The Occupational Safety and Health
Administration aims to ensure employee safety and health in the United States by
working with employers and employees to create better working environments.
Since OSHA's inception in 1971, nonfatal occupational injury and illness rates
have dropped 60 percent, while occupational fatality rates have fallen to the
lowest annual preliminary total since 1992. At the same time, U.S. employment
has doubled to nearly 115 million private sector employees at over 8 million
In Fiscal Year 2008, OSHA has 2,186 employees. The agency's appropriation is $490.3 million.
OSHA uses a variety of proven intervention strategies to accomplish its mission. This balanced approach includes: 1) strong, fair and effective enforcement; 2) safety and health standards and guidance; 3) training and education; and 4) cooperative programs, compliance assistance and outreach.
Strong, Fair, and Effective Enforcement
A strong, fair and effective enforcement program establishes the foundation for OSHA's efforts to protect the safety and health of the nation's workers. OSHA seeks to assist the majority of employers who want to do the right thing while focusing its enforcement resources on sites in more hazardous industries -- especially those with high injury and illness rates. Less than 1 percent of inspections -- about 300 -- came under the agency's Enhanced Enforcement Program, designed to address employers who repeatedly and willfully violate the law. Strong enforcement has helped to increase alleged violations by more than 10 percent over the past five years, including an increase of 14 percent in alleged willful violations since 2003. At the same time, injuries and illnesses continue to decline significantly.
Outreach, Education, and Compliance Assistance
Outreach, education and compliance assistance enable OSHA to play a vital role in preventing on-the-job injuries and illnesses. OSHA offers an extensive website at www.osha.gov that includes a special section devoted to small businesses as well as interactive eTools to help employers and employees address specific hazards and prevent injuries. For example, the agency provides employers the opportunity to personalize the information they receive through the My OSHA page on the agency's website and provides ergonomic information including guidelines for specific industries. In FY 2004, more than 50 million visitors logged onto OSHA's website.
The agency provides a variety of publications in print and online. In addition, workplace safety and health information or assistance for workers is available during business hours through OSHA's call center at 1-800-321-OSHA. The hotline remains open 24 hours a day for fatality and accident reporting during non-business hours.
OSHA strives to reach all employers and employees, including those who do not speak English as a first language. The agency maintains a Spanish webpage, and Spanish-speaking operators can be reached at the OSHA national call center during business hours. Various publications, training materials and videos are available in Spanish, and OSHA continues to issue new publications. Many regional and area offices also offer information in other languages such as Japanese, Korean and Polish.
Free workplace consultations are available in every state to small businesses that want on-site help establishing safety and health programs and identifying and correcting workplace hazards. In addition, OSHA has a network of more than 70 Compliance Assistance Specialists in local offices available to provide employers and employees with tailored information and training.
OSHA's Alliance Program enables employers, labor unions, trade or professional groups, government agencies, and educational institutions that share an interest in workplace safety and health to collaborate with OSHA to prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace. A signed formal agreement between OSHA and the organization provides goals addressing training and education, outreach and communication and promoting the national dialogue on workplace safety and health.
In the Strategic Partnership Program, OSHA enters into long-term cooperative relationships with groups of employers, employees, employee representatives and, at times, other stakeholders to improve workplace safety and health. These partnerships focus on safety and health programs and include enforcement and outreach and training components. Written agreements outline efforts to eliminate serious hazards and provide ways to measure the effectiveness of a safety and health program.
The Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program is designed to provide incentives and support to employers to develop, implement and continuously improve effective safety and health programs at their worksite(s). SHARP provides recognition for employers who demonstrate exemplary achievements in workplace safety and health.
The Voluntary Protection Programs, OSHA's premier partnership, continues to pay big dividends by recognizing safety and health excellence. Today VPP worksites save millions each year because their injury and illness rates are more than 50 percent below the averages for their industries.
WORKPLACE INJURIES AND ILLNESSES--2011
Nearly 3.0 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2011, resulting in an incidence rate of 3.5 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) conducted by the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics. (See tables 1 and 2.) The rate reported for 2011 was unchanged for the first time in a decade during which the total recordable cases (TRC) injury and illness incidence rate among private industry employers declined significantly each year since 2002, when estimates from the SOII were first published using the current OSHA requirements for recording occupational injuries and illnesses.
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