What does the Occupational Health and Safety Administration do?

What does the Occupational Health and Safety Administration do?

If you have been injured in an accident at work, you might have had an encounter with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The federal agency's main role is investigating accidents and if necessary, citing those who are responsible for the accident occurring. Companies are required to report any accident that results in an injury or death, as well as one that results in damage to property. OSHA also conducts inspections on companies, both scheduled and random.

When OSHA is called in, a representative conducts an investigation. Those directly involved are interviewed as well as any witnesses to the event. The company's financials and inspection records are also investigated. If after the investigation it is determined that the accident could have been prevented, OSHA can levy punishments on the offending people and organizations.

OSHA might seem like an organization that isn't necessarily needed, but the statistics show just how important OSHA is. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,405 people were killed in workplace-related accidents in 2013. That equates to 85 people a week and 12 people per day. Interestingly, this is the lowest recorded death toll since the statistic started being tracked in 1992.

The construction industry saw the most deaths. One in five of all workplace deaths recorded in 2013 were construction-related. Several of the types of deaths included on the list are:

-- Falls

-- Struck by objects

-- Electrocution

-- Crushed between/in

OSHA tracks the industrial accidents, injuries and deaths. A company that is found to be at fault for an accident can be fined and ordered to make corrections, then subjected to random inspections for an unspecified period of time. If new infractions are found, additional fines and penalties can be assessed. Businesses as well as individual owners can be held responsible for discovered infractions, including fines, fees and other penalties. Some of the most cited areas by OSHA include:

-- Lack of respiratory equipment

-- Improper grounding for electrical equipment

-- Proper safety guards for machinery

-- Protection against falls

OSHA states that if industries took more care to correct the areas most cited in the workplace, it could save almost 500 lives each year.

OSHA strives to keep workers safe. For those who are injured while on the job, speaking to an experienced legal professional can help a person determine what options are available to them.

Source: United States Department of Labor, " Commonly Used Statistics" Dec. 03, 2014

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