Our HAZWOPER training will aid you in OSHA compliance. Listed below is a narrative on the scope of OSHA's authorization as mandated by Congress.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHAct) of 1970 was passed by Congress "to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources." Under the OSHAct, OSHA was established within the Department of Labor and was authorized to regulate health and safety conditions for all employers with few exceptions.
Under the OSHAct, OSHA was created to:
encourage employers and employees to reduce workplace hazards and to implement new or improve existing safety and health standards; provide for research in occupational safety and health and develop innovative ways of dealing with occupational safety and health problems; establish "separate but dependent responsibilities and rights" for employers and employees for the achievement of better safety and health conditions; maintain a reporting and recordkeeping system to monitor job-related injuries and illnesses;
establish training programs to increase the number and competence of occupational safety and health personnel; and, develop mandatory job safety and health standards and enforce them effectively.
The OSHA standards affecting the University fall into two major categories: (1) General Industry and (2) Construction. These standards may require the adoption or use of one or more practices, means, methods, or processes reasonably necessary or appropriate to provide protection on the job. It is the supervisor's responsibility to become familiar with the applicable standards and to ensure that employees follow procedures, including the use of personal protective equipment, as required.
General Duty Clause
Where OSHA has not promulgated specific standards to address a given situation, employers are responsible for following the intent of the OSHAct's general duty clause. The general duty clause states that each employer shall furnish "a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to [its] employees." In those cases where a specific standard does not exist, OSHA will use the general duty clause for the issuance of citations and fines.
Development and Adoption of Standards
The standard setting procedure can be started in several different ways. OSHA can simply begin the process on its own initiative or in response to petitions from other parties. Once OSHA has developed plans to propose, amend, or delete a standard, it publishes these intentions in the Federal Register as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking or often as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The notice will include the terms of the new rule and provide a specific time for the public to respond. Interested parties may submit written arguments and pertinent evidence and may request a public hearing on the proposal when none has been announced in the notice.
After close of the comment period or public hearing, OSHA must publish in the Federal Register the full, final text of the adopted standard and the date it becomes effective, along with an explanation of the standard and the reasons for implementing it.
Keeping Employees Informed
Departments are responsible for keeping employees informed about OSHA and about the various safety and health matters with which they are involved. OSHA requires that each department post certain materials at a prominent location in the workplace. These include:
Job Safety and Health Protection (workplace poster, OSHA 2203) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities under the OSHAct; summaries of petitions for variances from standards or recordkeeping procedures; and copies of OSHA citations for violations of standards. These must remain posted at or near the location of the alleged violations for three days or until the violations are abated, whichever is longer.
Occasionally, OSHA standards or NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) research activities will require an employer to measure and record employee exposure to potentially harmful substances. Employees have the right (in person or through their authorized representative) to be present during the measuring and to examine records of the results. Each employee or former employee has the right to see his or her examination records and must be told if exposure has exceeded the levels set by standards. The employee must also be told what corrective actions are being taken.
OSHA is authorized to conduct workplace inspections to enforce its standards.
Under the Act, an OSHA compliance officer is authorized to:
"Enter without delay and at reasonable times any factory, plant, establishment, construction site or other areas, workplace, or environment where work is being performed by an employee of the employer"; and to
"Inspect and investigate during regular working hours, and at other reasonable times, and within reasonable limits and in a reasonable manner, any such place of employment and all pertinent conditions, structures, machines, apparatus, devices, equipment and equipment therein, and to question privately any such employer, owner, operator, agent or employee."
Nearly all inspections are conducted without any advanced notice. However, when advance notice of an inspection is given, the employer must inform his or her employees' representatives or arrange for OSHA to do so. OSHA usually does not have a warrant for an inspection when they first arrive and may not conduct warrantless inspections without an employer's consent. It may, however, inspect after acquiring a search warrant or its equivalent based on administrative probable cause.