The purpose of this research is to examine the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) not only to learn of its factual mandates, but, more importantly, to discover criticism levied against it by business, labor and consumer advocates alike resulting from problems many faced attempting to implement this controversial law.
Approved by Congress on December 29, 1970, OSHA in brief "aims to assure safe and healthful working conditions by ensuring enforcement of standards developed under the Act, by assisting and encouraging states in their efforts to assure such working conditions, and by providing for research, information, education and training in occupational safety and health."
The employer, under the Act, is responsible for ensuring safe and healthful working conditions, in particular for compliance with standards made by the Secretary of Labor for protection against "toxic materials and harmful physical agents, the use of warning labels or other forms of warning in regard to occupational hazards, appropriate emergency treatment, the use of protective equipment, the monitoring of employee exposure . . . and for standards to prescribe, where appropriate, medical examinations of employees exposed to occupational hazards."
Enforcement of the standards is in the hands of OSHA compliance officers. Inspections of businesses are made on a priority basis, according to the following scale:
(1) Investigations of situations involving catastrophes and fatalities.
(2) Inspections based on valid complaints about safety and health from employees;
(3) Concentration on the five industries in which injury rates are highest--longshoring, roofing and sheet metal work, meat processing, transportation equipment manufacturing, and lumber and wood products.
(4) A random inspection of a wide cross section of companies of all types and sizes to establish the existence of the program.
Penalties for violations of ...