Just the mention of the name can sometimes strike fear into the hearts of employers and cause employees to scratch their heads in wonder. I am amazed when employees ask “why do I have to do this?”, only to have their employer respond with the standard “because you have to do it that way”. They never really stop to explain why their employees are required to do certain things even if the employees can say, “I have done it this way for 20 years and nothing has ever happened.” All this demonstrates is a general misconception of what OSHA is and why it is in place.
The OSHA act itself gives the best reason for why the OSHA standards exist. The following is taken from that act.
“Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Stop and think for a moment about what would happen if each individual employer was required to determine what a workplace hazard was or how to protect employees from that hazard. What an absolute mess we would have on our hands when it came to work place safety! With the OSHA standards in place, there are consistent expectations in place regarding workplace hazards and necessary protection, making it easier on both the employers and the employees.
OSHA has been in place for 40 years now and, for most of us, it seldom, if ever, becomes part of our conscious thoughts during the normal work day. We do not realize how the implementation of consistent safety standards to the work place has affected our lives, it is just something that we know and have to do. Please keep this in mind- before OSHA, someone killed on the job was not newsworthy unless there were many fatalities involved. Now, if a single individual is killed on the job, chances are you are going to hear about it. It may not seem like it, but OSHA provides real progress when it comes to worker safety.