Job Safety and Health Protection Act
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 provides job safety and health protection for workers by promoting safe and healthful working conditions throughout the nation. Provisions of the Act include the following:
All employers must furnish to employees employment and a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious harm to employees. Employers must comply with occupational safety and health standards issued under the Act.
Employees must comply with all occupational safety and health standards, rules, regulations, and orders issued under the Act that apply to their own actions and conduct on the job.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has the primary responsibility for administering the Act. OSHA issues occupational safety and health standards, and its Compliance Safety and Health Officers conduct jobsite inspections to help ensure compliance with the Act.
The Act requires that a representative of the employer and a representative authorized by the employees be given an opportunity to accompany the OSHA inspector for the purpose of aiding the inspection.
Where there is no authorized employee representative, the OSHA Compliance Officer must consult with a reasonable number of employees concerning safety and health conditions in the workplace.
Employees or their representatives have the right to file a complaint with the nearest OSHA office requesting an inspection if they believe unsafe or unhealthful conditions exist in their workplace. OSHA will withhold, on request, names of employee(s) who file a complaint.
The Act provides that employees may not be discharged or discriminated against in any way for filing safety and health complaints or for otherwise exercising their rights under the Act.
Employees who believe they have been discriminated against may file a complaint with their nearest OSHA office within 30 days of the alleged discriminatory action.
If upon inspection OSHA believes an employer has violated the Act, a citation alleging such violations will be issued to the employer. Each citation will specify a time period within which the alleged violation must be corrected.
The OSHA citation must be prominently displayed at or near the place of alleged violation for three days, or until it is corrected, whichever is later, to warn employees of dangers that may exist there.
The Act provides for mandatory civil penalties against employers of up to $7,000 for each serious violation and for optional penalties of up to $7,000 for each nonserious violation. Penalties of up to $7,000 per day may be proposed for failure to correct violations within the proposed period and for each day the violation continues beyond the prescribed abatement date. Also, any employer who willfully or repeatedly violates the Act may be assessed penalties of up to $70,000 for each such violation. A minimum penalty of $5,000 may be imposed for each willful violation. A violation of posting requirements can bring a penalty of up to $7,000.
There are also provisions for criminal penalties. Any willful violation resulting in the death of any employee, upon conviction, is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 (or$500,000 if the employer is a corporation) or by imprisonment for up to six months, or both. A second conviction of an employer doubles the possible term of imprisonment. Falsifying records, reports, or applications is punishable by a fine of $10,000 or up to six months in jail, or both.
While providing penalties for violations, the Act also encourages efforts by labor and management, prior to OSHA inspection, to reduce workplace hazards voluntarily and to develop and improve safety and health programs in all workplaces and industries. OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs recognize outstanding efforts of this nature.
OSHA has published Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines to assist employers in establishing or perfecting programs to prevent or control employee exposure to workplace hazards. There are many public and private organizations that can provide information and assistance in this effort, if requested. Also, your local OSHA office can provide considerable help and advice on solving safety and health problems or can refer you to other sources for help such as training.
Free assistance in identifying and correcting hazards and in improving safety and health management is available to employers, without citation or penalty, through OSHA-supported programs in each state. These programs are usually administered by the state’s labor or health department or a state university.
Additional information and copies of the Act, specific OSHA safety and health standards, and other applicable regulations may be obtained from your employer or from an OSHA Regional Office, which are located as follows:
- Atlanta, GA 404-347-3573
- Boston, MA 617-565-7164
- Chicago, IL 312-353-2220
- Dallas, TX 214-767-4731
- Denver, CO 303-391-5858
- Kansas City, MO 816-426-5861
- New York, NY 212-337-2378
- Philadelphia, PA 215-596-1201
- San Francisco, CA 415-744-6670
- Seattle, WA 206-553-5930
Secretary of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Washington, DC 1995 (Reprinted) OSHA 2203
This information will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-219-8615; TDD message referral phone: 1-800-326-2577
GPO: 1995 0 – 163-097 QL 3