Occupational Safety and Health Act

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The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), often referred to as the "OSH Act," was enacted in 1970 by President Richard M. Nixon. Its purpose is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for men and women (EPA, 2006). The Act is administered and enforced at the national level by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the US Department of Labor. The application of the OSH Act in the current employment climate will be discussed as it applies to a variety of industries; considerations that are most applicable to the specific type of industry will be discussed initially, and those that are equally important regardless of the type of business will complete the section. Finally, this paper will discuss how the OSH act evolved from organized labor activities to federal law and its widespread national application. OSHA guidelines affect all companies engaged in the employment of individuals to perform work. One might assume that strictly administrative or "office work" environments are not significantly affected by OSHA regulations, but the contrary is true. Corporate offices must ensure that building standards meet code limitations; condemned buildings are typically not sanctioned as appropriate locations in which to conduct business. Additionally, if the building in which a company operates is more than 20 years old, it must ensure that no harmful asbestos exists anywhere within the structure. It is the business owners' responsibility to ensure that inspections for the presence of asbestos are performed, and it is the company's responsibility to have it removed (OSHA) Other factors such enterprises must address involve fall prevention. For example, electrical cords must be secured and floors must be free from protruding nails, splinters, and holes. For example, a company that allows the carpets in its premises to degrade to the point at which holes form, thereby introducing the risk of falls, is most certainly violating OSHA regulations. These requirements fall under the "Housekeeping" section of OSHA's general requirements. Other significant considerations include air quality, lighting considerations, and noise exposure. Conscientious employers address air quality concerns by ensuring that routine maintenance for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units occurs at regularly scheduled intervals, and that filters or pads are replaced according to manufacturer's specifications. Inadequate or inappropriate lighting has been recently associated with migraine and vision disorders in some individuals (Berkley, 2006). Employers must ensure that the lighting used in work environments meets OSHA standards of brightness, spectrum, and stability (non-flickering). Excessive noise in an office environment can be generated by a number of factors including copy machines, computer servers, printers, and mail processing machines. Business leaders must ensure that the noise produced by this equipment is within acceptable limitations or that employees are provided with protective equipment. Organizations involved with the delivery of healthcare to humans or animals must observe a wider variety of regulations under OSHA than office-type work environments. The most primary issues to which hospitals and veterinary clinics usually commit the most resources are procedures regarding blood-borne pathogens, needle and sharp instrument handling, communicable disease prevention, and the procedures involved in the dispensing of dangerous drugs and controlled substances. Most hospitals ensure that employees who may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens (such as HIV and Hepatitis B) receive extensive initial and ongoing training to mitigate the risk posed by such exposure. OSHA requires that such industries establish an Exposure Control Plan which is updated annually and is available to all employees (OSHA, 2006). In recognition of the devastating effects of exposure, most modern hospitals commit significant resources...
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