What is OSH

Last updated: 2023-10-04
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What is OSH

Occupational safety and health is the set of processes and methods that create or improve the health and safety working conditions of people in companies. The aim of OSH is to reduce or eliminate potential risks in the workplace associated with injuries and health, both to employees and to other people, such as contractors or visitors.

  • The purpose of OSH is to prevent the occurrence of potential work-related accidents, illnesses and other similar risks
  • the aim of OSH is therefore to prevent danger or damage to the health or loss of life of workers
  • measures may be technological, technical, legal, organisational or administrative in nature
  • OSH uses and includes all means, tools, equipment, measures and methods that can reduce health risks

OSH is a continuous activity. Implementing OSH means implementing the following five areas:

  1. develop OSH guidelines and operational documentation
  2. ensuring regular training of employees in occupational safety
  3. providing a safe workplace, work tools and equipment for workers
  4. conduct regular follow-up periodic reviews and inspections of OSH compliance
  5. have all OSH documentation of the above in order


Employer Responsibilities (For USA taken from Dept of Labor website)

  • Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.
  • Employers must provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.
  • Employers with hazardous chemicals in the workplace must develop and implement a written hazard communication program and train employees on the hazards they are exposed to and proper precautions (and a copy of safety data sheets must be readily available). See the OSHA page on Hazard Communication.
  • Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards.
  • Post, at a prominent location within the workplace, the OSHA poster (or the state-plan equivalent) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Report to the nearest OSHA office all work-related fatalities within 8 hours, and all work-related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations and all losses of an eye within 24 hours. Call our toll-free number: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742); TTY 1-877-889-5627. [Employers under federal OSHA's jurisdiction were required to begin reporting by Jan. 1, 2015. Establishments in a state with a state-run OSHA program should contact their state plan for the implementation date].
  • Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. (Note: Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain low-hazard industries are exempt from this requirement.
  • Provide employees, former employees and their representatives access to the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300). On February 1, and for three months, covered employers must post the summary of the OSHA log of injuries and illnesses (OSHA Form 300A).
  • Provide access to employee medical records and exposure records to employees or their authorized representatives.
  • Provide to the OSHA compliance officer the names of authorized employee representatives who may be asked to accompany the compliance officer during an inspection.
  • Not discriminate against employees who exercise their rights under the Act. See our "Whistleblower Protection" webpage.
  • Post OSHA citations at or near the work area involved. Each citation must remain posted until the violation has been corrected, or for three working days, whichever is longer. Post abatement verification documents or tags.
  • Correct cited violations by the deadline set in the OSHA citation and submit required abatement verification documentation.
  • OSHA encourages all employers to adopt a safety and health program. Safety and health programs, known by a variety of names, are universal interventions that can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries and alleviate the associated financial burdens on U.S. workplaces. Many states have requirements or voluntary guidelines for workplace safety and health programs. Also, numerous employers in the United States already manage safety using safety and health programs, and we believe that all employers can and should do the same. Most successful safety and health programs are based on a common set of key elements. These include management leadership, worker participation, and a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards. OSHA's Safe and Sound page contains more information.
  • For more information, refer to the following online publications and resources.
  • All About OSHA
  • OSHA Inspections
  • Top Ten OSHA Standards Cited

OSH documentation in companies

Companies must maintain appropriate documentation on OSH to ensure that it complies with all legislative requirements. The OHS documentation includes in particular the following points:

  • OSH guidelines and operational documentation
  • Employee health records, occupational illnesses, categorization of job roles for risk of work related accidents
  • Records of the professional competence of employees
  • Training records and evidence of employee training
  • Records of workplace accidents, near misses, and other workplace safety incidents or emergencies
  • Records of work equipment issued, in particular PPE (protective work equipment)
  • Documentation of compliance of work equipment and workplace with safety requirements, e.g. manuals, declarations of conformity
  • Records of occupational safety inspections and audits