When Was OSHA Created?

When Was OSHA Created

In response to decades of dangerous workplace conditions, and as the culmination of years of reform, in 1970, Congress passed legislation known as the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act, commonly known as the OSH Act, or OSHA. You might be wondering, when was OSHA created and when did OSHA start? President Richard Nixon signed the legislation on December 29, 1970. The OSH Act gave the federal government the authority to set and enforce workplace safety and health standards for most of the country’s workers. The topic of when was OSHA created is discussed in further detail below.

When Was OSHA Created? The Need for Reform

When World War II ended, thousands of GIs returned to workplaces across the country. At that time, there was no federal government regulation of workplace safety, and little regulation on the state level. Employers were essentially left free to regulate themselves. As these workers reintegrated into the workforce, work safety worsened. Accident and injury rates went up. A remedy was soon at hand, however. In the 1930s, Congress signed legislation giving trade and other unions an enforceable right to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. After World War II, new and powerful unions, using this legislation, were able to bargain for better working conditions for their workers.

In the 1960s, as the economy expanded, injury rates started to rise again despite union protections. Unions and worker safety groups pressured Congress to pass legislation providing workplace safety protection at the federal level. In response, Congress passed the OSH Act

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When Was OSHA Created? A Compromise

President Nixon’s predecessor, President Johnson, pushed for the passage of federal workplace safety and health regulation. Although his efforts came to an end when his administration did, in 1968, President Nixon took up the mantle of workplace safety reform by introducing two bills into Congress the following year. These bills called for an advisory, rather than mandatory, safety and health administration. The bills were met with opposition in Congress, which pushed for stronger measures. Eventually, compromise legislation was reached. The compromise bill gave Republicans something they wanted – an independent research and standard-setting board (known now as NIOSH). The bill also gave Democrats something they wanted – a “general duty” clause. Under the general duty clause, employers have a general obligation to protect worker safety, in addition to the more specific standards set forth in the various OSHA regulations. This compromise led to the OSHA Act’s passage. 

When Was OSHA Created? An Agency is Born

In 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created. Under the creation of OSHA, this agency, under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor, is responsible for enforcing OSHA law. Enforcement measures consist of workplace inspections, assessment of penalties, corrective actions, and education. OSHA ensures that employers meet a number of requirements.

Under the OSH Act, employers must:

  • Follow all relevant OSHA safety and health standards.
  • Find and correct safety and health hazards.
  • Inform employees about chemical hazards, through training, labels, alarms, color-coded systems, chemical information sheets, and other methods.
  • Notify OSHA within 8 hours of a workplace fatality or within 24 hours of any work-related inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.
  • Provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
  • Keep accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Post OSHA citations, injury and illness data, and the OSHA “Job Safety and Health – It’s the Law” poster in the workplace where employees can see it.
  • Not retaliate against any worker for exercising their rights under the OSH Act.

When Was OSHA Created? Training Programs Begin

OSHA has had a number of compliance assistance, training, and health and safety recognition programs throughout its history. Among the first of these was the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) which began in 1972. The OTI trains government and private sector health and safety personnel. Private sector employees, once trained, can then train their own workplaces on OSHA’s various safety requirements. Find out more information about trainings, HIPAA and OSHA compliance, and more on our site today!

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