What is OSHA and what businesses are subject to it?May 6, 2016 5:19 pm Leave your thoughts
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 – or OSHA – is one of the most important pieces of legislation that affects businesses nationwide. Essentially, it mandates that employers take steps to create a safe working environment for their employees, in hopes of preventing injury and death.
"OSHA mandates that employers create a safe working environment."
To help enforce the act, the U.S. Department of Labor established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (also referred to as OSHA), capable of investigating and leveling fines against businesses who are found to have violated safety standards. Making things more complicated is the fact that other laws dictate OSHA compliance on a state-by-state level.
Who is subject to OSHA?
OSHA applies to nearly all businesses throughout the United States and its territories. Some businesses, however, are exempt from specific OSHA regulations including:
- Businesses with ten or fewer employees in "low-hazard industries," including galleries and museums, offices for real estate or securities agents or brokers, retail stores and banks, auto dealerships and more.
- The self-employed.
- Family owned-and-operated farms.
- Religious institutions.
- Government employers.
Other businesses, like mining or nuclear power companies, may have their own regulations that supersede OSHA.
What do you need to do to comply with OSHA?
OSHA compliance is vital to avoid having to pay hefty fines or opening the business up to lawsuit. To comply with OSHA regulations, one must do the following:
- Submit to inspections. OSHA has the power to inspect businesses, both unannounced and scheduled, to verify they are operating in compliance with regulation. These inspections are often routine, though can be prompted by an employee or customer complaint. A representative from the business is allowed to accompany OSHA inspectors, but the business is not allowed to interfere or withhold anything from the inspectors should they request to see it.
- Hang notifications of rights. Part of OSHA compliance is hanging posters that alert employees to the fact the business they work for falls under OSHA supervision. These posters detail employee rights and the posters themselves must be displayed prominently.
- Provide information on the identification and handling of hazardous substances. Either referring to toxic chemicals or blood-borne pathogens, OSHA dictates that extra treatment information and training be made available to workers who deal with substances that could prove harmful to health.
- Emergency planning. OSHA regulated businesses must have emergency action plans in case of fire or other events, with a plan of egress – or escape – clearly spelled out. For businesses with ten or fewer employees, an emergency plan may be communicated orally. For larger businesses, it must be available as written.
- Report employee health incidents. OSHA workplaces are required to report incidents where an employee is injured or killed.
OSHA compliance is important, and having legal counsel that understands the ins and outs of regulations can help. The Arizona business attorneys at The Law Offices of Donald W. Hudspeth, P.C. are here to make sure you are covered. Call us today to find out more.
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