Brief Background of OSHA
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) officially formed on April 28, 1971, the date that the OSH Act became effective. George Guenther was appointed as the agency's first director. OSHA has developed a number of training, compliance assistance, and health and safety recognition programs throughout its history. The OSHA Training Institute, which trains government and private sector health and safety personnel, began in 1972. In 1978, the agency began a grant making program, now called the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, to train workers and employers in reducing workplace hazards. OSHA started the Voluntary Protection Programs in 1982, which allows employers to apply as "model workplaces" to achieve special designation if they meet certain requirements. The Occupational Safety and Health Act allows OSHA to issue workplace health and safety regulations. These regulations include limits on chemical exposure, employee access to information, requirements for the use of personal protective equipment, and requirements for safety procedures. In its first year of operation, OSHA was permitted to adopt regulations based on guidelines set by certain standards organizations, such as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, without going through all of the requirements of a typical rulemaking. In 2000, OSHA issued an ergonomics standard. In March 2001, the Republican-controlled Congress voted to repeal the standard through the Congressional Review Act. The repeal, one of the first major pieces of legislation signed by President George W. Bush, is the only instance that Congress has successfully used the Congressional Review Act to block a regulation. Between 2001 and 2011, OSHA has issued just four new health and safety standards; during this period, the agency has promulgated regulations at a far slower rate than during any other decade in the agency's history.
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