News & Information Blog

OSHA's Purpose

By Susen Trail | 03/14/2022

Many people would state that the role of OSHA is to conduct inspections, write violations, take employers to court and collect fines, a similar description to a police force.  However, when you look at their budget and enforcement activities, it becomes clear that enforcement is not the focus of the Administration. 

OSHA's budget for Fiscal Year 2021: $591,787,000 for 10 regional/85 local area offices

Biden White House budget: >$200,000,000  

(Just for the President, the First Lady, and the Vice President's staff.)

OSHA 2019 statistics

  • 1,850 State and Federal Compliance Safety and Health Officers, CoSHOs
  • 8,000,000 worksites covered by OSHA, Federal or State Plan
  • Federal CoSHOs cover 34 states and over 6 off shore islands
  • State CoSHOs cover 22 states
  • 33,393 inspections Federal
  • 42,063 inspections State
  • 75,456 workplaces inspected total
  • 0.94% of all workplaces were inspected in 2019
  • 5,333 on the job fatalities
  • ~400 fatality investigated.
  • ~7.5% of fatalities were investigated 

Yet the creation and activities of OSHA had such a positive impact on occupational injuries and fatalities:

  • 38 deaths/day in 1970
  • 15 deaths/day in 2019

While 38 deaths/day seems like a really high number occupational injuries and fatalities were on a downward trend due to the activities and publications of organizations and businesses promoting workplace safety.  Decades before President Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law many private sector industries, organizations, and associations were addressing and creating awareness of occupational safety needs and controls. 

It is clear that the need for safer workplaces was well known and businesses were seeking guidance.  For example, the National Safety Council, NSC, founded in 1912, had a 100-fold increase in membership in their first 10 years.  As usual in a capitalist economy need created resources.  The Manufacturing Chemist's Association, MCA, founded in 1920, and the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association, had major parts to play in increasing occupational safety.  Large corporations, such as Westinghouse Corporation spoke out about the importance of safer workplaces and employee protections:

  • The NSC stated "The education of employees is one of the most important features in safety work."
  • The MCA, and the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association sent out informational material and guidelines to their members.
  • The MCA urged chemical manufacturers information similar to the Hazard Communication standards Safety Data Sheet requirement.
  • In 1941 the Westinghouse Corporation endorsed good industrial hygiene practices in large and small companies, emphasizing employee training in the hazards they worked with and around. For more occupational safety history click here and here.

OSHA brought, and still brings, industries, organizations and relevant Unions together to create the OSHA standards.  By doing so the Administration reflects the emphasis on providing businesses with the minimum information they need to keep their employees safe.

Consider this, a small manufacturing business grows to the point where they need a forklift so they buy one.  Business start-ups have 'many balls in the air' and it is not unusual for them to forget to designate a Safety Manager or include a budget line for safety. 

Now the business is in the scope of the General Industry standard for the safety laws for powered industrial trucks, 1910.178.  This law states that the driver has to know how to drive the truck and other specific requirements to prevent the forklift from becoming a weapon of mass destruction.

OSHA also provides, one of the many educational pages with "etools" to round out the training for the employer, or the Safety Manager, to ensure every aspect of the forklift that may create a hazard is identified and provide the tools to control that hazard.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is, and always has been, an educational tool created and provided for businesses.

Just as OSHA creates a centralized source of safety and health data and instruction Simple Safety Coach centralizes all your businesses safety data, KPIs, recordkeeping, training, resources and…..   Well, contact us or sign up for a demo to learn the rest!

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