The Importance of OSHA: Making the workday safe for employees

What’s the best part of the workday? The end of it.

It’s an old joke; however, the sole mission of one government agency is to help ensure that when the end of the workday comes, you and your co-workers are safe and healthy when you’re clocking out and ready to head home. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within the U.S. Department of Labor. According to the OSH Act, OSHA was established “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.”

By the 1960s, 14,000 occupational fatalities were being recorded annually and 2.2 million people were unable to work due to injury or illness. There was an outcry for federal regulations that laid out equal rules and measures of enforcement across all industries and occupations, prompting Congress to create the OSH Act that was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.

The mission of OSHA is to save lives, prevent injuries and protect the health of American workers by developing job safety and health standards and enforcing them through worksite inspections, maintaining a reporting and record-keeping program to record job-related injuries and illnesses, and providing training programs to increase knowledge of occupational safety
and health.

Federal regulations and enforcement can be ceded to individual states through OSHA-approved State Plans. In Michigan, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) under the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs covers workplace safety for most private-sector workers and all state and local government workers. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce in Lansing frequently hosts training seminars and workshops for both employers and employees on OSHA/MIOSHA regulation compliance.

“The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is committed to helping our members solve their business problems and prosper. The No. 1 goal with these workplace safety educational events is to help our members keep their employees safe and help them comply with the OSHA regulations, which are both extensive and complicated,” said Wendy Block, vice president of business advocacy for the chamber. “Our members care about their employees and an effective safety program that follows OSHA and MIOSHA guidelines is extremely important in providing employees a safe and
healthy workplace.”

Among some of the recent training the chamber has provided include a 30-hour safety compliance course for employers, OSHA training for maintenance employees, and a program on safety audits and
accident investigations.

“The Michigan chamber has hosted numerous safety seminars over the last several decades, including, for example, safety audits and accident investigations,” Block said. “Our goal with this program is to provide proactive safety audit tools and encourage consistent practices that prevent accidents. We also regularly host the 10-hour and 30-hour OSHA safety compliance courses so our members have the opportunity to get a clear and deep understanding of OSHA standards
and topics.

“Our forklift safety training course provides general safety/operation training and guidelines for operating a forklift and covers mandatory classroom training instruction requirements of the current OSHA forklift standard,” Block said. “We strongly believe that helping our members be proactive, well-informed and well-prepared for any eventuality is the key to preventing workplace injuries and keeping their employees safe. This, in turn, allows them to focus on successfully running their business and helping Michigan’s economy grow.”

For more information, visit michiganchamber.com or michigan.gov/lara.

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