After a worker is injured on the job, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration typically launches an investigation into the incident. Some workers in Illinois might already be aware of the federal agency after witnessing OSHA investigators follow up on a workplace accident. However, the broader work that OSHA does and why it is necessary is not necessarily as clear to many others.
According to data from the year 2001, over half of workers suffered some type of illness or injury related to their line of work. This translates to over five million injuries in that year alone, and nearly 6,000 fatalities. This number might be shockingly high, and while unacceptable, it was vastly improved from the injury and death rates experienced by American workers prior to OSHA’s creation in 1971.
While OSHA has successfully helped cut occupational injuries by 42 percent and deaths by another 62 percent, the agency’s job is far from finished. Annually, OSHA performs tens of thousands of safety inspections, with its top priority focusing on areas that pose an imminent risk to workers. It also issues penalties to companies and employers who violate OSHA safety standards, which range in severity depending on the severity of the violation.
OSHA sets the standard for workplace safety to which employers must be held. The agency is in part able to ensure the continued respect of those standards by conducting routine inspections, although this might not always be sufficient. In addition to the inspections, OSHA encourages workers in Illinois to report any safety violations at their place of employment in order to help avoid an unnecessary workplace accident that could leave someone injured or even killed.
Source: FindLaw, “OSHA FAQs“, Accessed on Oct. 6, 2015
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