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  • When OSHA was enacted in 1970, it was heralded as the most important new source of protection for the U.S. worker in the second half of the twentieth century. From the information in this chapter, what is your opinion about the effectiveness or the ineffectiveness of the act? Should it be expanded, or should businesses have more freedom to determine safety standards for their workers?


Submission Instructions:

  • Your initial post should be at least 200 words, formatted and cited in proper APA style if you use support from academic sources.
  •  Please post your initial response by 9:00 PM ET Thursday 
  • Attached is the Summary of Ch. 12  Snell, S.A. & Morris, S.H. (2019). 

Summary Chapter 12- Promoting Safety and Health

12.1a. OSHA’s Coverage

OSHA covers all private sector employees and public employees in state and local governments. Self-employed workers are not covered by the law. Federal agencies are required to establish and maintain a safety and health program that is monitored by OSHA.

12.1b. OSHA Standards

One of the responsibilities of OSHA is to develop and enforce mandatory job safety and health standards. These standards cover the workplace, machinery and equipment, materials, power sources, processing, protective clothing, first aid, and administrative requirements. To comply with OSHA, employers need to become familiar with those standards that are applicable to their establishments and to ensure that their employees use personal protective gear and equipment when required for safety. Employers can be cited and fined if they do not comply with OSHA standards.*

OSHA can begin standards-setting procedures on its own initiative or on petition from other parties, including the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Other bodies that may also initiate standards-setting procedures are state and local governments and any nationally recognized standards-producing organization, employer, or labor representative (see Figure 12.4). NIOSH, however, is the major source of standards. As an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, it is responsible for conducting research on various safety and health problems, including the psychological factors involved.*

12.1e. Responsibilities and Rights under OSHA

Both employers and employees have certain responsibilities and rights under OSHA. We will discuss only those that relate directly to the management of human resources.

Employers’ Responsibilities and Rights

In addition to providing a hazard-free workplace and complying with the applicable standards, employers must inform all their employees about the safety and health requirements of OSHA. Specific employer responsibilities are listed in OSHA’s publication All about OSHA and illustrated in Highlights in HRM 1. Employers are also required to keep certain records and to compile and post an annual summary of work-related injuries and illnesses. From these records, organizations can compute their incidence rate—the number of injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time employees during a given year. The standard formula for computing the incidence rate is shown by the following equation, in which 200,000 equals the base for 100 full-time workers who work 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year:

Incidence rate=Number of injuries and illnesses×200,000Total hours worked by all employees during period covered

Highlights in HRM


What Are My Responsibilities under the OSH Act?

If you are an employer the OSH Act covers, you must:

Meet your general duty responsibility to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees, and comply with standards, rules, and regulations issued under the act.

Be familiar with mandatory OSHA standards and make copies available to employees for review upon request.

Inform all employees about OSHA.

Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable standards.

Minimize or reduce hazards.

Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment (including appropriate personal protective equipment) and that such equipment is properly maintained.

Use color codes, posters, labels, or signs when needed to warn employees of potential hazards.

Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.

Provide training required by OSHA standards (hazard communication, lead, etc.).

Report to the nearest OSHA office within eight hours of any fatal accident or one that results in the hospitalization of three or more employees.

Keep OSHA-required records of work-related injuries and illnesses, and post a copy of the totals from the last page of OSHA No. 200 during the entire month of February each year. (This applies to employers with 11 or more employees.)

Post, at a prominent location within the workplace, the OSHA poster (OSHA 2203) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities. (In states operating OSHA-approved job safety and health programs, the state’s equivalent poster and/or OSHA 2203 may be required.)

Provide employees, former employees, and their representatives access to the Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 200) at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner.

Provide access to employee medical records and exposure records to employees or their authorized representatives.

Cooperate with the OSHA compliance officer by furnishing names of authorized employee representatives who may be asked to accompany the compliance officer during an inspection. (If none, the compliance officer will consult with a reasonable number of employees concerning safety and health in the workplace.)

Not discriminate against employees who properly exercise their rights under the act.

Post OSHA citations at or near the worksite involved. Each citation, or copy thereof, must remain posted until the violation has been abated, or for three working days, whichever is longer.

Abate cited violations within the prescribed period.

If you are an employee the OSH Act covers, you should:

Read the OSHA poster at the job site.

Comply with all applicable OSHA standards.

Follow all employer safety and health rules and regulations, and wear or use prescribed protective equipment while engaged in work.

Report hazardous conditions to the supervisor.

Cooperate with the OSHA compliance officer conducting an inspection if he or she inquires about safety and health conditions in your workplace.

Exercise your rights under the act in a responsible manner.

Source: OSH Act, OSHA Standards, Inspections, Citations and Penalties (Washington, DC: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, May 20, 2011),

It is the employer’s responsibility to provide employees with protective equipment when necessary and ensure it is used. Employers must also provide their workers with safety training and be prepared to discipline employees for failing to comply with safety rules. In addition, employers must not discriminate against employees who exercise their rights under the act by filing complaints with OSHA.*

Employees’ Responsibilities and Rights

Employees are required to comply with all applicable OSHA standards, to report hazardous conditions, and to follow all employer safety and health rules and regulations, including those prescribing the use of protective equipment. Workers have a right to demand safe and healthy conditions on the job without fear of punishment. They also have many rights that pertain to requesting and receiving information about safety and health conditions.* For example, most states—and federal law—require that employers provide information to employees about the hazardous chemicals they handle. Commonly known as right-to-know laws, these statutes require employers and manufacturers to give employees information about the toxic and hazardous substances they could come into contact with on the job and what the health risks related to those substances are.

Overall Summary

The Occupational Safety and Health Act was designed to assure, so far as possible, safe and healthful working conditions for every working person. In general, the act extends to all employers and employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets health and safety standards, ensures employers and employees comply with them, and provides safety and health consultation and training where needed. Both employers and employees have certain responsibilities and rights under OSHA. Employers not only are required to provide a hazard-free work environment but also must keep employees informed about OSHA requirements and provide them with protective equipment when necessary and ensure they wear it. Under the “right to know” regulations, employers are required to keep employees informed of hazardous substances and instruct them in avoiding the dangers presented. Employees, in turn, are required to comply with OSHA standards, to report hazardous conditions, and to follow all employer safety and health regulations.

LO 2To provide safe working conditions for their employees, employers typically establish a formal safety program in liaison with their HR departments. The program may have many facets, including providing safety knowledge and motivating employees to use it, making employees aware of the need for safety, and rewarding them for safe behavior. Incentives such as praise, public recognition, and awards are used to involve employees in the safety program. Employers also engage their workers by asking them to join safety committees, help develop safety procedures, observe the safety practices of their coworkers, and investigate any accidents. The maintenance of required records from accident investigations provides a basis for information that can be used to create a safer work environment.

LO 3Job conditions that are dangerous to the health of employees are now receiving much greater attention than in the past. There is special concern for toxic chemicals that proliferate at a rapid rate and may lurk in the body for years without outward symptoms. Health hazards other than those found in manufacturing operations—such as video display terminals and cumulative trauma disorders—present special problems many firms are addressing with ergonomic solutions. Secondhand smoke and bloodborne pathogens are two other health hazards that have received greater attention in recent years.

LO 4Along with providing safer and healthier work environments, many employers establish programs that encourage employees to improve their health habits. Wellness programs that emphasize exercise, nutrition, weight control, and avoidance of harmful substances serve employees at all organizational levels. Alternative medicine approaches such as relaxation techniques and hypnosis, chiropractic care, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal therapy, special diets, massage, and so forth are also used to help employees with a variety of health problems.

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