Protecting the safety and health of employees is a highly regulated function for all employers. Though there are many laws that directly or indirectly impose legal obligations on employers to protect the safety and health of employees, the primary workplace safety and health law in the nation is the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) enacted in 1970.
The OSH Act has a simple goal: "To assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions." (29 USC 651(2)). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for administering and enforcing the OSH Act. OSHA regulations set out uniform national standards for workplace safety and health practices throughout the country. There are rules for workplace hazard assessments, safe work procedures and hazard prevention, chemical hazard communication, recordkeeping, OSHA inspections, employee rights, and penalties.
The OSH Act applies to each employer in private sector (private businesses and nonprofit organizations) workplaces with one or more employees. All state and local government entities, or public sector workplaces, are exempt from the OSH Act requirements. However, many states have enacted their own workplace safety and health rules that govern public sector employers.
There is additional information about the OSH Act and OSHA.