The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency under the federal Department of Labor charged with assuring worker safety. The Administration’s mission is to assure “safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” Most private employers, as well as some government employers, are covered under OSHA.
Simply put, OSHA establishes a set of rights and responsibilities for both employers and employees regarding workplace safety. Part of this duty includes establishing a series of workplace standards that all OSHA-covered employers are supposed to follow. These standards, generally based on relevant industry standards, are designed to ensure that all covered workplaces are safe for employees. OSHA periodically inspects workplaces and cites employers for violations of the standards.
According to a recent industry news report, OSHA proposed a series of 18 changes to the current standards that may go into effect later this year. The last change to OSHA standards was in 2011. Most of the changes are designed to bring current standards more in line with industry standards that may have fallen out of date as the industry evolved. Some of the changes also codify, or standardize, various standards across an industry that may be different in certain geographical areas.