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What is OSHA

Every year, millions of workers face the risk of injuries on the job, and for that reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was founded.

Published on:
March 25, 2024

Every year, millions of workers face the risk of injuries on the job, and for that reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was founded. OSHA is a major federal agency in the United States that assures employees in different industries of their safety and health. It was created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to ensure OSHA's mission of guaranteeing safe working conditions through setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. For companies navigating the complexities of workers' compensation, understanding OSHA's role is vital.

Why OSHA matters

OSHA has dramatically improved workplace safety, reducing the number of work-related fatalities by an impressive 63% since its founding. Back in the 1970s, the average number of job-related deaths was about 38 per day, but by 2021, this number had been reduced to approximately 14 deaths per day. The introduction of OSHA's health and safety standards, including those for asbestos and fall protection, has played a crucial role in preventing injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among workers. These changes not only make workplaces safer for employees but also lead to fewer and less severe workers' compensation claims.

Medical health claims that can be filed

Employers must report all workplace injuries to their workers' compensation insurer, but severe incidents also require direct reporting to OSHA. This includes fatalities within 30 days, which need an eight-hour report, and inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, or eye losses within 24 hours. 

Under OSHA's recordkeeping regulation:

  • Record all work-related fatalities.
  • Record injuries and illnesses that result in time off, work limitations, job changes, medical care beyond first aid, unconsciousness, or major medical diagnoses.
  • Work-related is defined as those caused, contributed to, or worsened by workplace events or exposures.
  • Includes a wide range of injuries (e.g., cuts, fractures) and illnesses (e.g., dermatitis, asthma, poisonings).

It's critical to understand the difference: OSHA requires immediate reporting for grave injuries, while insurers need to know about all injuries. Following these rules set by OSHA helps employers stay compliant and may reduce the legal and financial impacts of accidents.

What can you do as an employer?

As an employer, it's your responsibility to ensure your workplace is safe and healthy, following OSHA guidelines closely. You need to educate your team about potential hazards through training, labels, alarms, and more, ensuring they're fully aware of the risks and how to handle them. Keeping accurate records of any work-related injuries or illnesses is also crucial.

Make sure to display OSHA citations, injury and illness records, and the OSHA poster where everyone can see them. Above all, it's important to create a workplace culture where your employees feel safe to exercise their rights without fear of retaliation. Your commitment to these practices will help you comply with OSHA and build a safer, more transparent work environment.

The Bottom Line

OSHA plays a crucial role in preventing injuries through the implementation of its safety standards and guidelines. At the same time, workers' compensation stands ready to offer financial and medical assistance to those who suffer injuries.

Following these guidelines and reporting work injuries helps to bridge the gap between preventative measures and post-incident care. At its core, OSHA's mission is to ensure every worker returns home safely at the end of the day.

Paig Stafford

Paig Stafford is an aspiring Registered Dietitian and experienced writer, skilled in making complex health and tech topics accessible. Her work spans sectors like tech startups and software companies, with a focus on health tech. Currently, she's pursuing a MHSc in Nutrition Communication at Toronto Metropolitan University, linking dietetics with health insurance tech. In her free time, she enjoys creating healthy recipes and video gaming.

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