Chapter 10 – Occupational Safety and Health Act: Making Environments Safe on the Job


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates exposures to hazardous substances and prescribes rules to prevent injuries in the workplace. OSHA regulates through a combination of inspections, recordkeeping, injury reporting requirements, and specific regulatory rules (called occupational safety and health standards) that generally apply to specific industries or industrial processes. OSHA promulgates substance-specific permissible exposure limits (PELs), which typically set a maximum concentration exposure limit for hazardous substances over an 8-hour workday. The OSH Act also contains a General Duty Clause requiring employers to furnish a workplace free from recognized hazards. Even where no specific standard applies, OSHA inspectors may issue citations for unsafe conditions as violations of the General Duty Clause. The OSH Act established an independent science agency, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to make non-binding, scientific findings and recommendations to OSHA.