OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY & HEALTH ADMINISTRATION 7
OccupationalSafety & Health Administration
ThroughGeneral Duty Clause Occupational Safety & Health Administration(OSHA) enforces many safety and health rules or standards. Theserules are so many that sometimes employees get confused andfrustrated. According to research, many people complain of gettingconfused when search through the Federal Regulations Code, whichcontains rules for occupational safety & health. The code is asmall print with 1000 pages with technical details. Besides thisregulation, there is only one requirement covering all hazardousconditions. The condition is referred to as General Duty Clause.General Duty Clause is of great importance to employees, butsometimes when a dangerous situation occur OSHA lack particularstandard or rule to deal with it. OSHA should not pursue workplacehazards through enforcement of General Duty Clause(Wang, 2008).
OSHAshould continue offering management suggestions, because after manyyears of enforcing Occupational Safety & Health Provisions,representatives of OSHA have noticed a strong link betweenapplication of comprehensive management practices, and few incidencesof occupational illnesses and injuries. Where practicalimplementation of health & safety management has been done,disease and injury rates have reduced significantly. Over many years,State enforcement, consultation staff, and OSHA have witnessed manyexamples of workplaces where health & safety programs weremanaged well and exceptional reduction of illness and injuryrates(Wang, 2008).
Themain characteristics observed in workplaces include systematic andorganized methods of assigning suitable responsibility to employees,supervisors, and managers, control and regular inspection of currentand potential hazards, as well as training and orienting workers inmeans and ways of avoiding or eliminating those hazards. Fundamentalimportance of these methods is reflected in various decisions ofOccupational Safety & Health Review Commission. As a result ofincreasing appreciation of the need for effective safety & healthprogram management, OSHA has included program managementrequirements. Reduction in employees’ compensation and improvementsin workplace productivity and morale reported by Voluntary ProtectionPrograms indicates considerable economic benefits(Wang, 2008).
FieldOperations Manual is a regulatory document for Occupational Safety &Health Administration compliance officers. Its mission is toguarantee health and safety of employees in United States. The manualhelp compliance officers in enforcing regulations, encouragingcontinuous improvement of health and safety in workplaces, as well asscheduling & conducting inspections. Moreover, the manual guidesthe compliance officer on how to notify an employer about thecooperative programs like Strategic Partnerships, On-siteConsultation, and Voluntary Protection Program. These programs helpto eliminate existing and potential hazards from a workplace. FieldOperations Manual provides organizations with essential guideline inimplementation of OSHA’s balanced approach towards workplace healthand safety, education & training, cooperative programs, as wellas enforcement. It is also a resource for employers and employees,providing them with a consolidated position on how OSHA wantsorganizations to make a workplace healthy and safe. Field OperationsManual encourages organizations to apply OSHA inspections andcomplaints as consolidating tools to get access to employer facilitythat an outsider may not obtain. OSHA inspection allows unionorganizer to get personal contact with workers that lack duringorganizing campaigns(Wang, 2008).
Someemployers imagine that OSHA compliance can be achieved throughcompliance with applicable Occupational Safety & HealthAdministration Code of the federal regulations such as 1915 Maritime,1910 General Industry, 1928 Agriculture, and 1926 Construction.Nevertheless, this does not guarantee complete OSHA compliance. Thereis a need for employees to acquaint themselves with other enforcementtools like General Duty Clause, Incorporation by Reference, StandardsInterpretations, Compliance Directives, as well as Letters ofInterpretation(Wang, 2008).
Theseare written reactions to employers who request for interpretation ofcertain OSHA standards. Most of the interpretations can be found onthe website of OSHA. Although interpretation letter is notenforceable, it provides guidance on the OSHA’s perspectiveconcerning specific OSHA standards. A good example is “permissibilityof the consent form with a liability waiver” interpretation (22July 1993 Anne Sturtz). The Bloodborne Pathogen Standard requiresthat a vaccine for hepatitis B should be offered to all employees’exposure to bloodborne pathogens at no cost. The letter ofinterpretation declares that it is illegal for employers to ask theiremployees to sign a liability waiver in order to access hepatitis Bvaccine. Occupational Safety & Health Administration feels thatasking a worker to sign a liability waiver will waive the employeefuture rights, and therefore it will be costly to an employee(Wang,2008).
Itprovides guidelines to a Compliance Officer on how to conductinspections on the specific standards of OSHA. Comparing currentworkplace safety practice against applicable Compliance Directives isan important tool in evaluating OSHA compliance. The directive ofconformity (CPL 2-2.53) deals with first aid training programs(Wang,2008).
Theseinterpretations are provided by Occupational Safety & HealthAdministration to interpret, change, or amend any OSHA standard. Asoppose to letters of interpretation, the standard interpretation islawfully enforceable. For example, (29 CFR 1910.23 (e) 1) permit toprail of the standard track to be 42 feet in height.
Itis important to note that Occupational Safety & HealthAdministration regulations are just one facet of guaranteeing OSHAcompliance. OSHA standards are considered the minimum set ofguidelines and they do not guarantee employee safety. Some workplacesrequire specific safe work observes and “state of an art” thepractices of industry safe work should be implemented to guaranteeemployee safety(Wang, 2008).
Ergonomichazards citations can be found in General Duty Clause, which explainthat employer must furnish his workers with work and workplace thatis free from well-known dangers, which may cause serious physicalharm or death to workers. Ergonomic disorders require at least asevere citation. For citation purposes, a severe physical damage isdescribed as impairment of a human body where a part of it is madeuseless or is made not to function properly. For instance, the basisfor a serious citation may exist where a work is required to exerthigh repetitive force throughout a shift, and because of that he/shesuffer carpal tunnel syndrome. An employer is supposed to know such acondition and make an effort to change the job in order to reduceergonomic stressors. In particular cases, willful citation may beissued for citation amount of $71,000 as the maximum. Willfulviolation occurs when evidence reveals that an employer committed aviolation of OSHA Act intentionally. A good example of the willfulviolation is when an employer contract an ergonomic consultant whohad previously performed a survey detailing engineering and hazardscontrols needed to minimize ergonomic hazards. In case the employerfails to act on recommendations, and allow employees to be injuredthen the employer can be cited for willful violation(Wang, 2008).
Wang,C. C. K. (2008). OSHAcompliance and management handbook.Park Ridge, N.J., U.S.A: Noyes Publications.