What Does the OSHA Do?

OSHA is tasked by Congress to “assure the safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and is part of the Department of Labor.

OSHA covers private sector employers and employees in every state. Federal agencies must have programs that meet the same standards as private employers. Not covered by Federal OSHA are self- employed workers, family members who work on farms, workers in industries regulated by another federal agency, and most state and local government workers.

OSHA issues standards which employers must follow to protect their employees. These standards range from limiting the amount of hazardous chemicals to which a worker is exposed to methods for recording and reporting workplace injuries and illnesses. Examples of employer requirements include fall protection, guards on machines and training for dangerous jobs. If no particular standard applies, there is a general benchmark that requires employers to keep their workplace free of serious recognized hazards.

Workers may confidentially ask OSHA to inspect their workplace via a complaint process. An employer may not retaliate against a worker who filed the complaint without facing consequences from OSHA.