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Employer Responsibilities and Rights Under OSHA

March 14, 2008

Employer Responsibilities and Rights Under OSHA

Employers have certain responsibilities and rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The following provides a review of some of those obligations. Employers must:

● Meet their 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 requests.

● Inform all employees about OSHA.

● Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable standard

● 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 medical examinations when required by OSHA standards.

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

● Report to the nearest OSHA office within 48 hours any fatal accident or one that results in the hospitalization of five 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 of each year. (This applies to employers with 11 or more employees.)

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

● Provide employees, former employees, and their representatives access to the Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA No. 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 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 (e.g., file safety or health grievance).

● Not retaliate for such activities in any way such as through firing, demotion, taking away seniority or other earned benefits, transferring the worker to an undesirable job or shift, or threatening or harassing the worker.

● 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.

● Seek advice and off-site consultation, as needed, by writing, calling, or visiting the nearest OSHA office. (OSHA will not inspect merely because an employer requests assistance.)

● Be active in your industry association’s involvement in job safety and health.

● Request and receive proper identification of the OSHA compliance officer prior to inspection.

● Be advised by the compliance officer of the reason for an inspection.

● Have an opening and closing conference with the compliance officer.

● Accompany the compliance officer on the inspection.

● File a Notice of Contest with the OSHA area director within 15 working days of receipt of a notice of citation and proposed penalty.

● Apply to OSHA for a temporary variance from a standard if unable to comply because of the unavailability of materials, equipment, or personnel needed to make necessary changes within the required time.

● Apply to OSHA for a permanent variance from a standard if you can furnish proof that your facilities or method of operations provide employee protection at least as effective as the one required by the standard.

● Take an active role in developing safety and health standards through participation in OSHA Standards Advisory Committees and recognized standards-setting organizations.

Information courtesy of What Every Business Manager and HR Professional Should Know About Federal Labor and Employment Laws

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