OSHA : What you need to know

The OSH Act was designed to “assure, as far as possible, every working man and woman in the nation safe working conditions and to preserve our human resources.” It attempts to achieve this end through a set of uniform national standards for workplace safety and health practices throughout the country.

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OSHA, a regulatory agency within the U.S. Department of Labor, was given the power by Congress to administer and enforce the standards for private sector workplaces (private businesses and nonprofit organizations) and make surprise inspections to ensure that employers adhere to the regulations of occupational safety and health established by the OSH Act.


OSHA is a federal agency that reports to the Secretary of the Department of Labor. The head of OSHA, the Assistant Secretary, is appointed by the president and approved by the U.S. Senate. OSHA’s program offices include:

  • Enforcement
  • Construction
  • Training and Education
  • Cooperative and State Programs
  • Evaluation and Analysis
  • Standards and Guidance
Regional and Area Offices

OSHA has 10 regional offices, and one or more area offices in each state or territory. Each regional office serves from four to eight states and/or territories.


The OSH Act governs occupational safety and health in private sector workplaces (private businesses and nonprofit organizations), covering 111 million workers at 7.25 million establishments. The law applies to all private sector workplaces and activities involved in interstate commerce, regardless of the number of employees; in general industry, construction, maritime, and agriculture. The term “interstate commerce” is given a very liberal interpretation, making the OSH Act applicable to all enterprises including nonprofit ...

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More on this topic:

OSHA’s Responsibilities
OSHA and Other Agencies
Additional Guidance

State Requirements

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming |

OSHA Resources

OSHA Products

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Safety Audit Checklists - 2013 Edition
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