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Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA Was Created To Ensure Safe and Healthful Working Conditions

When the U.S. Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) it also created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.

Federal law entitles workers to a safe workplace. Employers must keep their workplaces free of known health and safety hazards. Workers have the right to speak up about hazards without fear of retaliation. Workers also have the right to:

• Receive workplace safety and health training in a language you understand

• Work on machines that are safe

• Receive required safety equipment, such as gloves or a harness and lifeline for falls

• Be protected from toxic chemicals

• Request an OSHA inspection, and speak to the inspector

• Report an injury or illness, and get copies of your medical records

• Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses

• See results of tests taken to find workplace hazards

Safety and Health Complaint

If a worker believes working conditions are unsafe or unhealthful, the worker may file a confidential complaint with OSHA and ask for an inspection. If possible, the worker should tell the employer about their concerns.

Protection from Retaliation

It is illegal for an employer to fire, demote, transfer or otherwise retaliate against a worker who complains to OSHA and uses their legal rights. If you believe you have been retaliated against in any way, file a whistleblower complaint within 30 days of the alleged retaliation.

Contact OSHA

To discuss a workplace health or safety issue, contact OSHA toll-free at 1-800-321-6742, or by e-mail, or through your nearest OSHA office. Your information will be kept confidential.

In Texas, as in all states, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) operates under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to ensure safe and healthful working conditions. OSHA sets and enforces standards, and provides training and assistance. Texas employers are required to maintain workplaces free of known health and safety hazards, and workers have the right to receive safety training, work with safe machinery, receive necessary safety equipment, be protected from toxic chemicals, and more. Workers can request an OSHA inspection and have the right to speak to the inspector without fear of retaliation. If a worker believes conditions are unsafe, they can file a confidential complaint with OSHA. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against workers for exercising their rights under the OSHA Act. Workers who face retaliation can file a whistleblower complaint within 30 days. OSHA can be contacted toll-free for workplace health or safety concerns, and all worker information will be kept confidential.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Texas Health and Safety Code, Title 5. Sanitation and Environmental Quality, Chapter 506. Occupational Health and Safety
This Texas statute provides the state's approach to occupational health and safety, which complements federal OSHA regulations.

The Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 506, establishes the state's policy to ensure safe and healthful working conditions in every occupation in the state by authorizing the enforcement of effective standards, by assisting and encouraging employers and employees in their efforts to reduce the number of occupational safety and health hazards, and by providing for research and education in the field of occupational safety and health. This chapter allows for the creation of occupational health and safety programs and includes provisions for the adoption of federal standards, where applicable.

Texas Labor Code, Title 5. Workers' Compensation, Subtitle A. Texas Workers' Compensation Act, Chapter 411. Safety Violations
This chapter of the Texas Labor Code outlines the state's provisions for reporting and addressing safety violations in the workplace.

Chapter 411 of the Texas Labor Code provides workers with the right to report a work-related injury or illness. It requires employers to keep records of occupational injuries and illnesses and to make these records available for inspection. The chapter also outlines the process for employees to report safety violations and for the Division of Workers' Compensation to investigate such claims. Additionally, it includes provisions for penalties against employers who violate safety requirements and protections for employees against retaliation for reporting safety violations.

Texas Labor Code, Title 5. Workers' Compensation, Subtitle A. Texas Workers' Compensation Act, Chapter 406. Workers' Compensation Insurance Coverage
This chapter includes provisions related to workers' compensation insurance, which is relevant to workplace injuries and illnesses.

Chapter 406 of the Texas Labor Code mandates that private employers can choose whether or not to provide workers' compensation insurance coverage for their employees. However, if employers elect not to provide workers' compensation insurance, they must comply with certain reporting and notification requirements. This chapter also outlines the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees within the workers' compensation system, including the provision of medical and income benefits for workers who sustain a work-related injury or illness.

Texas Labor Code, Title 5. Workers' Compensation, Subtitle A. Texas Workers' Compensation Act, Chapter 451. Discrimination Prohibited
This chapter protects employees from retaliation for exercising their rights under the workers' compensation system in Texas.

Chapter 451 of the Texas Labor Code prohibits employers from discriminating against or discharging an employee for filing a workers' compensation claim in good faith, hiring a lawyer to represent them in a claim, instituting or causing to be instituted in good faith a proceeding under the Texas Workers' Compensation Act, or testifying in such a proceeding. If an employer violates these provisions, the employee may be entitled to reinstatement, compensation for lost wages, and other damages.

Federal Statutes & Rules

Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), 29 U.S.C. §651 et seq.
This is the primary federal law which created OSHA and governs workplace health and safety in the United States.

The OSH Act was enacted to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for employees by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health. Under the OSH Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace. OSHA sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. Employers must also comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, which requires them to keep their workplaces free of serious recognized hazards. This Act gives workers the right to safe working conditions, to receive information and training about hazards and their prevention, and to exercise their rights without fear of retaliation.

General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act
This clause is a critical part of the OSH Act that requires employers to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards.

The General Duty Clause requires each employer to furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees. This clause is used by OSHA to cite violations that are not covered by a specific standard but where the employer failed to take reasonable steps to prevent or abate a recognized hazard.

Whistleblower Protection Provisions, Section 11(c) of the OSH Act
This section of the OSH Act protects employees who exercise their rights under the Act from retaliation by employers.

Section 11(c) of the OSH Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising a variety of rights guaranteed under the OSH Act, such as filing a safety and health complaint with OSHA, participating in an inspection, or reporting a work-related injury or illness. If retaliation occurs, the employee must file a complaint with OSHA within 30 days of the alleged retaliation. OSHA will then investigate the complaint and can order remedies if retaliation is found to have occurred.

Recordkeeping Requirements, 29 CFR Part 1904
OSHA's recordkeeping regulations require employers to record and report work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses.

29 CFR Part 1904 outlines the requirements for recording and reporting occupational injuries and illnesses. Employers with more than ten employees and whose establishments are not classified as a partially exempt industry must record serious work-related injuries and illnesses using OSHA forms. This information helps employers, workers, and OSHA evaluate the safety of a workplace, understand industry hazards, and implement worker protections to reduce and eliminate hazards.

OSHA Standards, 29 CFR Parts 1910, 1915, 1917, 1918, 1926, and 1928
These parts of the Code of Federal Regulations contain specific OSHA standards for general industry, maritime, construction, and agriculture.

OSHA standards are rules that describe the methods employers are legally required to follow to protect their workers from hazards. There are four groups of OSHA standards: General Industry (29 CFR 1910), Maritime (29 CFR 1915, 1917, 1918), Construction (29 CFR 1926), and Agriculture (29 CFR 1928). These standards are designed to protect workers from a wide range of hazards, including exposure to toxic chemicals, excessive noise levels, mechanical dangers, heat or cold stress, or unsanitary conditions.