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OSHA. February 16, 2011. OSHAct. Signed by President Nixon 12/1970 after legislative efforts begun by President Johnson in 1966 “To assure safe and healthful working conditions” Set standards, enforcement, training, educate, compliance assistance, research, etc. OSHAct History.

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February 16, 2011


  • Signed by President Nixon 12/1970 after legislative efforts begun by President Johnson in 1966

  • “To assure safe and healthful working conditions”

  • Set standards, enforcement, training, educate, compliance assistance, research, etc.

Oshact history
OSHAct History

  • State factory safety and health laws

    • First in Massachusetts (1877) and then in several other states

    • Required inspectors with varied authority

    • Dealt with issues such as machine guarding, fire exits, etc.

    • Piecemeal and state-by-state


Worker injuries/illnesses

10.9 per 100 workers


Worker deaths



Worker injuries/illnesses

3.6 per 100 workers


Worker deaths



Oshact history1
OSHAct History

  • Workplace tragedies impacts include:

    • Mining disaster in1907 in Monongah, West Virginia where 362 coal miners were killed led to creation of US Bureau of Mines in 1910

    • Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York in 1911 resulting in 146 garment worker deaths led to state level changes

    • Mining disaster in 1968 in Farmington, West Virginia where 68 miners were killed led to passage of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act in 1969

Oshact history2
OSHAct History

  • Establishment of workers’ compensation laws (first in Wisconsin in 1911 and by 1921 most states had enacted such programs)

  • Development of state industrial commissions to develop and enforce safety and health regulations

Oshact history3
OSHAct History

  • US Department of Labor created in 1913 and it compiled industrial accident statistics

  • Bureau of Labor Standards created in 1934

  • Social Security Act of 1935

  • Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

  • Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act of 1936

  • Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act amendments in 1958

  • DOL issued mandatory health and safety guidelines under Walsh-Healey Act in 1960

  • Public Health Service report “Protecting the Health of Eighty Million Americans” in 1965


  • Created 3 federal agencies:

    • OSHA

    • NIOSH

    • OSH Review Commission


  • Reduction in workplace injuries and deaths

  • Coverage

  • Federal and state plans


  • OSHAct: Employers

    • Employers “shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act”

    • Employers are subject to General Duty Clause


  • OSHAct: Employees

    • Employees “shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct”

    • Employee right to refuse dangerous work under certain conditions

    • Employees are not cited


  • Standard Setting

    • Initial standard setting (using available national standards)

    • Subsequent standard setting

    • Emergency standard setting (grave danger)


  • Standard Setting

    • Types of standards:

      • General Industry

      • Construction

      • Maritime

      • Agriculture


  • Standard Setting

    • Applies to new, modification, revocation

    • Can begin internally or from outside request

    • May request advisory input

    • Publish advanced notice/proposed rules in Fedreal Register with opportunity for public input

    • Issue rule or determine rule not issued


  • Standard Setting

    • For toxic materials or harmful physical agents:

      “shall set the standard which most adequately assures, to the extent feasible, on the basis of the best available evidence, that no employee will suffer material impairment of health or functional capacity even if such employee has regular exposure to the hazard .. for the period of his working life.”


  • Standards

    • Can be specification or performance-based

    • Typical components include exposure limits, control technology, medical examinations, labels/warnings, training/education, monitoring, etc.


  • Bases for Standard Challenges include:

    • Standard setting process not followed

    • Technical feasibility

    • Economic feasibility

    • Benefit to worker safety/health not proven


  • Variances

  • Interpretations

  • Enforcement Directives


  • Standards (29 CFR 1910)

    • Multiples types including personal protective equipment, scaffolds, fall protection, noise, ventilation, hazardous materials, confined spaces, lockout/tagout, fire protection, machinery, electrical, toxic and hazardous substances, hazard communication, etc.


  • Standard Setting Examples

    • Bloodborne Pathogens

    • Indoor Air Quality

    • Air Contaminants

    • Ergonomics


  • General Duty Clause

    • Applies when no specific standard applies

    • “Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”


  • General Duty Clause Violations

    • Failure to keep workplace free of hazard

    • Hazard recognized by employer or employer’s industry

    • Recognized hazard causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm

    • Feasible means to eliminate or materially reduce hazard


  • Enforcement activities

    • Programmed/Unprogrammed Inspections (ex. Severe Violator Enforcement Program, Local Emphasis Programs, etc.)

    • Citations

    • Criminal Prosecutions (DOJ)

    • Whistleblower Provisions


  • www.osha.gov

  • OSHA QuickTakes newsletter