The purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act was to protect the health and safety of American workers, and to insert a new level of safety standards into the nation's workplaces.
One of the primary outcomes of the legislation was the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA's ongoing role is to promote continued workplace safety and to ensure compliance with OSH Act requirements.
But even though the legislation has been in effect for more than 40 years, many employers and employees still lack clarity about OSHA safety standards. Most states have instituted additional, OSHA-approved safety regulations and younger generations of employees simply aren't aware of their rights under OSH legislation.
To alleviate any lingering confusion, the OSH Act requires covered employers to notify their workers about safety and health standards in the workplace. Part of this notification requirement includes displaying OSHA posters and other signage throughout the work environment. OSHA posters have become commonplace in the majority of workplaces, but it's important to make sure your posters are displayed properly and contain the information that is necessary to fully comply with federal legislation.
OSH Act Posters
OSHA is very specific about the display requirements and contents of mandated posters. Employers must display OSHA's "Job Safety and Health: It's the Law" poster prominently in the workplace, where it can be seen by both employees and job applicants. The poster must be at least 8.5" x 14" in size and have at least a 10-point font.
If the state has an OSHA-approved state plan, employers within the state are required to post the state OSHA poster, which can be obtained through state labor departments and agencies. Federal workplaces use a different version of the poster because they are covered by a different safety program.
If your workplace employs non-English speakers, you may want to display the OSHA poster in both English and Spanish, although displaying the poster in Spanish is not an OSHA requirement.
Small business employers should be aware of OSHA's other signage requirements. OSHA has developed a system of signage to warn employees and others about workplace hazards. These signs are color-coded and have precise specifications. Visit OSHA's website at www.osha.gov for more information.