According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH), OSHA is responsible for assuring safe and healthy workplace conditions for working men and women. OSHA authorizes the enforcement of health and safety standards developed under the Act and assists the states in their efforts to ensure safe and healthy working conditions. OSHA also provides research, information, education, and training in the fields of occupational health and safety in order to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.
As an agency of the United States Department of Labor, OSHA federal regulations cover most private sector workplaces, including construction sites. The Occupational Safety and Health Act permits individual states to develop their own approved workplace health and safety plans as long as they cover public sector employees and provide protection that is equivalent to the federal OSHA regulations.
Under OSHA, construction employers have a duty to:
- Provide work and a workplace free from recognized hazards.
- Inform employees of OSHA safety and health standards that apply to their workplace.
- Display, in a prominent place, the official OSHA poster that describes rights and responsibilities under the OSH Act.
- Establish a written, comprehensive hazard communication program that includes provisions for such things as container labeling, material safety data sheets, and an employee training program.
- Inform employees of the existence, location, and availability of their medical and exposure records when employees first begin employment and at least annually thereafter, and to provide these records upon request.