Occupational Safety and Health Administration
March 1, 2005
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 heralded a new era in the history of public efforts to protect workers from harm on the job. This Act established for the first time a nationwide, federal program to protect almost the entire work force from job-related death, injury and illness. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) was formed as a part of the Department of Labor for the purpose of protecting workers from dangers inherent in the workforce, primarily in industrial environments. This organization got off to a very rocky start, understandably so as the task assigned to them was not a light one, or even one that would be easily enforced.
The first few years of OSHA were riddled with successes and failures, but consistently progressed towards a very well rounded program. George Guenther was the first administrator of OSHA, he decided to focus more on the Health of the worker than the Safety side because he felt it was more feasible to start there and expand once that area was covered well. This policy led to the first government standard set by OSHA, a regulation on the use of asbestos. One of the biggest problems experienced by OSHA was that they originally counted on the States to support their regulations and limited the development of its own staff. This proved to be a problem as the States were somewhat less than willing to enforce all the regulations to the standard expected by the organization. There was also a lot of controversy about the exemption of small businesses. The Supreme Court held many hearings on this subject in an attempt to determine just how much power OSHA should have.
After his re-election, Nixon replaced the Secretary of Labor with Peter J. Brennan, a tough labor leader from the New York City construction trades who lacked experience in government. As a former... [continues]
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