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Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha)

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Essay title: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the United States Department of Labor, which was established in 1971. OSHA reflects Theodore Roosevelt’s belief that human health is a natural resource worthy of protection. OSHA’s mission was “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation, safe and healthful working conditions”. The OSHA’s mission has changed a bit over the years, but still has the same underlying message, “to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health”.

The OSHA has facilitated a decrease in workplace fatalities by more than 60 percent. It has also helped to decrease the amount of occupational injuries and illness, by 40 percent. Simultaneously, U.S. employment has doubled from 56 million workers at 3.5 million worksites to more than 115 million workers at 7.2 million sites.

The OSHA’s main concerns are with the development and enforcement of job safety and health regulations. It also works to educate employers and employees about industrial hazards. The Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The assistant secretary for occupational safety, John Henshaw, directs the OSHA. Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C. and it has ten regional offices located throughout the United States. This agency encourages each state to develop their own health and safety programs to replace the OSHA. The federal government pays half the cost of these programs and many programs are approved by the agency itself.

The OSHA’s regulations deal with fire protection, protective garments and railings, and many other safety matters. The rules of the OSHA also establish maximum levels of exposure to asbestos, lead, and other substances that could endanger the health of workers. Inspectors check factories and other work sites for any violations to these rules. Inspectors also fine employers who fail to the make required changes in their business or workplace.

Since its beginnings, the OSHA has been a very controversial agency. There has been criticism from both business and labor groups, towards this agency. Many business groups argue, that the agency’s regulations are hard to comprehend, that penalties are unjust, paperwork is unwarranted, and the cost of observance is taxing to small companies. On the other hand, labor groups have called the OSHA’s enforcement procedures meager. They have also complained that the agency has failed to reduce occupational hazards.

In April 2002, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, started working on a plan to develop specific guidelines to reduce and prevent ergonomic injuries or musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which occur often in the workplace. MSD is an injury or disorder of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. For the first time, OSHA has made an enforcement plan designed to target prosecutable ergonomic violations. This new plan includes a specialized focus to help Hispanic and other

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