What are OSHA Laws?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 January 2020
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The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is an organization within the United States (US) Department of Labor that is responsible for ensuring a safe and healthy work environment at businesses and worksites throughout the US. OSHA laws are typically passed and established to ensure that this type of environment is created and supported at a workplace. These OSHA laws can include anything from the safe handling and cleanup of chemicals and products that may be harmful to a person’s health to how to deal with exposure to bodily fluids.

Established following the passage of the Occupational Safety & Health Act in 1970, OSHA exists to ensure that employees are kept safe and healthy while working. OSHA laws apply to just about any type of workplace, from a retail store to a warehouse, and if the laws are not followed properly then a business can be fined. While some stores or businesses may not require extensive education regarding OSHA issues, there are some laws or regulations that govern just about any type of business. Other stores, such as those that sell potentially hazardous or dangerous chemicals, will have greater need for proper understanding of OSHA laws and a specific employee at such a store may be responsible for this type of information.


Some of the most common types of OSHA laws that may be encountered in the workplace involve those dealing with potential exposure to bodily fluids and other more mundane hazards. Due to the possible risk of spreading numerous diseases and illnesses through fluids such as blood, any accident in which such fluids are exposed to others should be handled carefully. Most workplaces are required to have first aid kits, which often include gloves, bandages, antiseptic, and other common medical equipment. Even something like a minor burn due to hot coffee can be handled according to OSHA laws and guidelines, and proper procedures should be followed regarding any type of injury, especially if the injured person may require workman’s compensation.

In a workplace with more hazardous chemicals and substances, there are typically more extensive OSHA laws detailing how such materials should be handled or cleaned. Even a hardware or home repair store could have need of these laws and regulations since things like paint, paint remover, pool cleaning chemicals, and other substances can be highly toxic or even explosive. These types of businesses, especially major corporate ones, will often have a single employee in each store in charge of safety and will be aware of many different OSHA laws dealing with cleanup and disposal of such chemicals. This may be the person’s only job or simply one part of a larger role within the store.


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