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In January, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970. In honor of the occasion, OSHA will launch a yearlong commemoration of the OSH Act’s past achievements, current efforts, and future initiatives, all designed to protect the American workforce.
This Act has done a lot for American workplaces in the last 50 years. In honor of the big anniversary, we’re looking back at what the OSH Act has accomplished and why it’s still an essential law for American workers across the country.
The OSH Act was signed into law in 1970 by President Richard Nixon. The goal of the Act was to create safe and healthy working conditions for men and women.
To that end, it laid the foundation for the creation of OSHA, which enacts and enforces policies under the authority of the OSH Act to this day. The Act also created the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) which conducts occupational safety research to support future regulation.
Since its passage, the OSH Act became a cornerstone of workplace safety for all American employees. Thanks to the OSH Act, millions of workers can go home safely to their families every single day.
The OSH Act’s achievements are astonishing. Since its passage, workplace fatalities were reduced by 65%. In addition, workplace injuries and illnesses dropped by 40% as U.S. employment doubled in size.
Every percentage point means that working men and women could spend more time on the job, with fewer occasions to mourn a loved one or struggle through a work-related disability.
So when we talk about the accomplishments of OSHA and the OSH Act, the truth is that it’s hard to quantify. After all, how do you quantify getting to see your family every day, or the stability and peace of mind that comes with knowing your job won’t put you in harm’s way?
The OSH Act remains an essential protection for workers all across the country for precisely this reason.
From the establishment of the first national health standard to imminent danger provisions to whistleblower protections, OSHA (and by proxy, the OSH Act) is behind every element of workplace safety that we now take for granted.
Most of all, the OSH Act and OSHA continue to evolve alongside workplace hazards. New regulations are added all the time to ensure that workers are as safe as possible every single day, and OSHA will achieve even more in the next 50 years.
The fact of the OSH Act’s 50th year also means that the law has grown and evolved over 50 years. Which means there are 50 years worth of complications for your safety team to keep track of.
Fortunately, we’re here to make compliance a little easier, this year and for the next 50 years of the OSH Act. If you’re ready to change the way your workplace thinks about safety, get in touch today to learn how our EHS software can help.
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