Federal Enforcement Agency – OSHA

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Several federal enforcement agencies exist to monitor employee / employer activities to ensure rules and regulations are followed so that both parties are protected. OSHA is one federal enforcement agency that plays an extremely important role in the workplace. OSHA creates and enforces standards for workplace safety and health. Different types of businesses have different standards depending on the type of work performed by employees and the type of workplace employees work in.

For example, different standards are in place for construction than for extrusion. This is because the work environments, while both are dangerous, are quite different. In construction employees are more likely to come across harmful plants or animal and OSHA requires that employees in this field are to be trained on how to recognize the danger, how to avoid it, and how to administer first aid for various injuries. However, in the extrusion industry employees won’t come across hazardous plants or animals. Instead, they are more likely to work with machines that grind plastic (and anything else that gets in their way). OSHA’s regulations require employers to properly train employees on how to wear safety gear, including harnesses, gloves, face guards, etc.

If an employer has violated any of OSHA’s standards, and OSHA finds out about it, the employer will be fined a substantial amount of money and possibly be shut down until the problem is fixed or the investigation is complete. OSHA has up to 6 months after a report of a violation / injury / death to investigate the circumstances and interview all parties involved at his or her discretion to make a determination on whether the employer had violated any OSHA standards.

I only know all of this because on Dec. 26, 2010 my husband tripped over a warped grate covering for the electrical system and fell into a tub of 500º+ liquid plastic. Luckily, he only suffered from 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his right hand and a partial de-gloving of that hand (sorry to be so graphic). The injury could have been much worse if he hadn’t been wearing his protective gear. However, because he was never properly trained on how to put his safety gear on the company was fined several thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, the warped grate was changed out and fixed prior to OSHA being notified. The company was also fined a small amount because they didn’t report the injury to OSHA within 24 hours – they reported the accident very shortly after the 24 hour deadline.

Do you believe that OSHA regulations should be stricter or more lenient for employers? Why?

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