Safety & Health (OSHA)



The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (The OSH Act) created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assure safe and healthful working conditions for workers, by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. OSHA is part of the United States Department of Labor (DOL).

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OSHA Standards: Protection on the Job

Employers must comply with all applicable OSHA standards. OSHA standards are rules that describe the methods that employers must use to protect their employees from hazards. There are OSHA standards for Construction work, Agriculture, Maritime operations, and General Industry, which are the standards that apply to most worksites.

These standards limit the amount of hazardous chemicals workers can be exposed to, require the use of certain safe practices and equipment, and require employers to monitor hazards and keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Examples of OSHA standards include requirements to:

  • provide fall protection,
  • prevent trenching cave ins,
  • prevent some infectious diseases,
  • assure that workers safely enter confined spaces,
  • prevent exposure to harmful substances like asbestos,
  • put guards on machines,
  • provide respirators or other safety equipment, and
  • provide training for certain dangerous jobs.

Employers must also comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, which requires employers to keep their workplace free of serious recognized hazards. This clause is generally cited when no specific OSHA standard applies to the hazard.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers MUST provide their employees with a workplace that does not have serious hazards, and must follow all relevant OSHA safety and health standards.

Click here for OSHA’s Workplace Poster.

Employers must find and correct safety and health problems. OSHA further requires employers to try to eliminate or reduce hazards first by making changes in working conditions rather than just relying on masks, gloves, ear plugs or other types of personal protective equipment (PPE). Switching to safer chemicals, enclosing processes to trap harmful fumes, or using ventilation systems to clean the air are examples of effective ways to get rid of or minimize risks.

Employers MUST also:

  • Inform employees about hazards through training, labels, alarms, color-coded systems, chemical information sheets and other methods.
  • Keep accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Perform tests in the workplace, such as air sampling required by some OSHA standards.
  • Provide hearing exams or other medical tests required by OSHA standards.
  • Post OSHA citations, injury and illness data, and the OSHA poster in the workplace where workers will see them.
  • Notify OSHA within 8 hours of a workplace incident in which there is a death or when three or more workers go to a hospital.
  • Not discriminate or retaliate against a worker for using their rights under the law.

The OSH Act covers most private sector employers and their workers in addition to some public sector employers and workers in the 50 states and certain territories and jurisdictions under federal authority. Those jurisdictions include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Wake Island, Johnston Island, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands as defined in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Most employees in the nation come under OSHA’s jurisdiction either directly through Federal OSHA or through an OSHA-approved state program.

Injury and Illness Calculator

Use this BLS Injury and Illness Calculator to calculate injury and illness incidence rates for your specific establishment or firm and to compare it with the averages for the Nation, for States, and for the industry in which the establishment is found.

Click here for OSHA’s Workplace Poster.

Click here for all Required Workplace Posters.

The OSH Act does not cover:

  • Self-employed;
  • Immediate family members of farm employers that do not employ outside employees; and
  • Workplace Hazards regulated by another Federal agency (for example, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard).

To find the contact information for the OSHA Federal or State Program office nearest you, see the Regional and Area Offices map.

OSHA Law & Regulations – OSHA’s Law and Regulations page contains links to all current OSHA standards, provides information on the rulemaking process used to develop workplace health and safety standards, and includes links to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) and other relevant laws.

Training for Workers

hardhat photoThe OSHA Outreach Training Program provides training for workers and employers on the recognition, avoidance, abatement, and prevention of safety and health hazards in workplaces. The program also provides information regarding workers’ rights, employer responsibilities, and how to file a complaint. This is a voluntary program and does not meet training requirements for any OSHA standards.

See also specific industry procedures for Construction, General Industry, Maritime, and Disaster Site Worker. [Note: Downloadable PDF documents may open in a separate window.]

OSHA Videos

Other OSHA Resources

  1. Chemical Hazard Communication
  2. Construction hazards
  3. Employee Workplace Rights
  4. Find an OSHA office
  5. Find what you are looking for from A to Z
  6. Get information on recordkeeping & reporting requirements
  7. Get the FREE OSHA poster
  8. Hearing Conservation
  9. Heat Stress Card
  10. OSH Compliance FAQs for employers
  11. How To Prepare For Workplace Emergencies
  12. Industry hazard alerts
  13. Information on State Plans
  14. Job Safety & Health Protection Poster
  15. NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Program
  16. OSHA Fact Sheets
  17. OSHA Inspections
  18. Personal Protective Equipment
  19. Preventing Workplace Violence For Health Care and Social Service Workers
  20. Recordkeeping Requirements
  21. Required Workplace Posters
  22. Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments
  • OSHA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • OSHA at-a-Glance [PDF]
  • En Español [PDF]

safety photo State OSHA Resources

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (Section 18 of the OSH Act) encourages states to develop and operate their own safety and health programs in the workplace. OSHA approves and monitors State Plans.

State Occupational Safety and Health Plans — Links to states with Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) plans. Includes a state plan directory of contact information.

OSHA-Approved State Plans

The following states have approved State Plans:

NOTE: The Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Virgin Islands plans cover public sector (State & local government) employment only.

Required Workplace Posters

Health and Wellness

Click here for general health and wellness information, including: – The Business Tools you need. Developed by leading HR experts.