Are You a Legal Professional?

OSHA FAQs

Background

 What is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's mission?

OSHA's mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Since the agency was created in 1971, occupational deaths have been cut by 62% and injuries have declined by 42%.

 How and when was OSHA created?

Congress created OSHA under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which was signed by President Richard M. Nixon on December 29, 1970.

 How many work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths occur each year in the United States?

In 2001, there were 5.2 million occupational injuries and illnesses among U.S. workers. Approximately 5.7 of every 100 workers experienced a job-related injury or illness, and 5,900 workers lost their lives on the job. For more information, go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Website, Safety and Health Statistics page.

Enforcement

 What is OSHA's budget, and how many inspectors does the agency have?

OSHA's budget for Fiscal Year 2003 is $450 million. The agency has a staff of 2,303, including 1,327 compliance safety and health officers. Twenty-six states run their own OSHA State Programs with 2,960 state employees, including 1,327 compliance safety and health officers.

 How many inspections does OSHA conduct each year?

OSHA inspected 37,493 workplaces during Fiscal Year 2002. The agency plans to conduct 37,700 inspections in FY 2003. The 26 states running their own OSHA programs conducted an additional 58,402 inspections in FY 2002.

 What are OSHA's inspection priorities?

Top priority are reports of imminent dangers-accidents about to happen; second are fatalities or accidents serious enough to send three or more workers to the hospital. Third are employee complaints. Referrals from other government agencies are fourth. Fifth are targeted inspections-such as the Site Specific Targeting Program, which focuses on employers that report high injury and illness rates, and special emphasis programs that zero in on hazardous work such as trenching or equipment such as mechanical power presses. Follow-up inspections are the final priority.

 What's the penalty for violating an OSHA standard?

OSHA penalties range from $0 to $70,000, depending upon how likely the violation is to result in serious harm to workers. Other-than-serious violations often carry no penalties but may result in penalties of up to $7,000. Serious violations may have penalties up to $7,000. Repeat and willful violations may have penalties as high as $70,000. Penalties may be discounted if an employer has a small number of employees, has demonstrated good faith, or has few or no previous violations. For more information on OSHA penalties, see Section 17 of the OSH Act or information on penalties in the OSHA Publication All About OSHA {PDF File}.

 What if OSHA inspects my workplace and I disagree with the findings?

Employers have the right to contest OSHA citations and/or penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Employers must file notices of contest within 15 working days of being issued citations.

 How can I find out about OSHA inspections of my workplace or other companies?

OSHA maintains an inspection database on this website that you can use to search for companies by name or by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code. You can limit your search by state or by year if you wish.

Recordkeeping

 Who must keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses?

About 1.3 million employers with 11 or more employees-20 percent of the establishments OSHA covers-must keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. Workplaces in low-hazard industries such as retail, service, finance, insurance, and real estate are exempt from recordkeeping requirements. For more information on recordkeeping, click here.

Compliance Assistance

 Do I need to put up an OSHA poster in my workplace? Where can I get a copy?

Yes, all employers must post the federal or a state OSHA poster to provide their employees with information on their safety and health rights. You may order a printed copy from the OSHA Publications Office at (800) 321-OSHA or download and print one from this website in English or Spanish.

 How can I get help from OSHA to fix hazards in my workplace?

If you are an employer, you may wish to contact the OSHA Consultation Program for your state for free on-site assistance in identifying and correcting hazards or setting up safety and health programs. You can also contact the OSHA Area Office nearest you to speak to the compliance assistance specialist about training and education in job safety and health issues. Another option is OSHA Advisors, interactive software that "walks" you through specific OSHA standards or helps identify potential hazards throughout your workplace. You can also find information on specific topics on the OSHA website by using the Alphabetical Subject Indexes, Advanced Search options, or by reviewing featured topics on the main OSHA Home Page.

If you are a worker, you can call the nearest OSHA Area Office, or you can file a complaint online through the OSHA Workers' Page.

 How can I get workplace safety and health training from OSHA?

You can contact the nearest OSHA Area Office to speak to the compliance assistance specialist. You also can check out training available at the OSHA Training Institute in the Chicago area or at one of the 20 education centers located at colleges and universities around the nation.

 What cooperative programs does OSHA offer?

OSHA's Alliance Program enables trade or professional organizations, businesses, labor organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies that share an interest in workplace safety and health to collaborate with OSHA to prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace. OSHA and the organization sign a formal agreement with goals that address training and education, outreach and communication, and promoting the national dialogue on workplace safety and health.

The OSHA Strategic Partnership Program is for employers with varied backgrounds, experience and records in job safety and health. Participants in OSPP share a common commitment to improving workplace safety and health. These partnerships merge the creative ideas and resources of OSHA and stakeholders. OSPP emphasizes training and education in a voluntary, cooperative atmosphere. Tracking results is key to the partnerships.

 Voluntary Protection Programs are OSHA's premier partnership programs designed to recognize workplaces with exemplary safety and health programs. VPP participants serve as models of excellence for others in their industries and communities and are exempt from routine OSHA inspections.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified workplace safety attorney to make sure
your rights are protected.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

Help Me Find a Do-It-Yourself Solution