The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 introduced important reforms to workplaces across the nation, not the least of which was the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
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OSHA's mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities through the enforcement of safety and health regulations.
For small businesses, OSHA has introduced a new level of accountability and HR requirements into the average work environment. In addition to requiring employers to keep their workers informed about workplace safety and health issues, OSHA requires certain employers to maintain records about workplace-related injuries and illnesses.
Although OSHA requirements have been controversial for many smaller employers, a negative approach to OSHA reporting and posting requirements is unproductive, at best. Everyone can agree that a safer workplace is beneficial for both employers and employees. But whether you like OSHA requirements or not, it's the law – and here's what you need to know to stay on the government's good side.
Both federal OSHA and state agencies require businesses to post specific health and safety information for their employees. The rationale is that employees have a right to information about their physical well-being, but may not have an opportunity to review policies that have been buried deep in employment paperwork. The good news is that you won't have to create OSHA posters yourself. Since they require specific wording, OSHA-approved posters can be purchased from most office supply outlets. However, to make sure you're covered you should consider hanging posters in more than one location, preferably in the areas where employees tend to congregate.
Businesses with 11+ employees are required to maintain records of work-related illnesses and injuries as they occur. These records include the OSHA Form No. 200, Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, and the OSHA Form No. 101, Supplementary Record of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. On the plus side, these forms do not need to be submitted to OSHA or any other regulatory agency. Instead, your company is only required to maintain these records for a period of five years and make them available to OSHA or state agencies upon request.