Workplace safety is a matter of grave importance to any organization. Ensuring the safety of workers is a primary goal of most countries, no matter which kind of political system or setup they have. This is because almost no workplace is free from some or another kind of hazard. These workplaces could be as varied as hospitals, construction sites, engineering plants or agriculture and many more.
Governments the world over consider it their duty to provide a safe workplace. Workplace safety can concern any hazard that can happen to either the physical or emotional wellbeing of a worker.
Workplace safety regulations are legally stipulated measures that governments require organizations in both the private and public sector to implement in order to ensure safety at the workplace. Almost all countries have their own set of workplace safety regulations. These regulations work in tandem with a few global management systems with the aim of enhancing safety standards at the workplace.
A notable global organization that is at the forefront of legislating workplace safety regulations is the International Labor Organization (ILO). These ILO-mandated legislations are meant to supplement the national workplace safety regulations that most countries have. This is done in the belief that many a time, these individual legislations may not be sufficient in themselves.
Like most other countries, the US too has its own set of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) standards. Owing their origins to the Richard Nixon era in late 1970; workplace safety regulations in the US concretized under what is collectively called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The major feature of OSHA is that apart from promulgating workplace safety regulations across nearly all conceivable sectors and types of industries; OSHA also has a provision for whistleblowing.
Being a major workplace safety regulation in the US, OSHA makes it obligatory for employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees. OSHA stipulates various workplace safety regulations for each type of industry and each type of activity. A very prominent feature of workplace safety regulations in the US is that when it comes to enforcement and applicability of these workplace safety regulations; there is no distinction between temporary and regular employees. Temporary employees are to be treated on par with regular employees in the administration of OSHA provisions.
Considering the extent and gravity of the work it does; OSHA is a relatively small organization. It has a strength of just 2400 inspectors. They pick up their workplaces randomly for inspections. It is estimated that if OSHA inspectors were to fully inspect each and every workplace across the US for all their activities; this exercise would take more than a century and a quarter.
Yet, despite this severe limitation, it should be stated that workplace safety regulations legislated by OSHA has had very positive results. As a result of these workplace safety regulations, it is estimated that workplace-related fatalities fell by four fifths in the US in the century from 1913, despite the workforce numbers having grown multifold in the same period.