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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Essay on Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 - International Accident Rate


            The Bureau of Labor Studies stated that the final count on fatal work injuries in the United States was 5,214 (“Revisions to the 2008 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) counts”, p.1).   This represents the lowest annual total of work injuries since 1992.  The significant reduction on fatal work injuries is the result of the efforts on the part of the various government agencies and even the companies themselves to reduce workplace injuries or accidents.  It must be stressed that the companies themselves do not want any work-related injuries or accidents to take place.  Some of the reasons for the same is that it affects the productivity of the employees, delays the completion of the project or the activity, exposes the company to suits and affects the reputation of the company.

            In addition, the reduction in the work-related accidents and injuries is the result of the strict laws that require the employers to ensure that the general welfare of the employees is protected and that every man and woman enjoys a safety and healthful working condition in the workplace.

            The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is one of the laws that helped reduce the work-related injuries and accidents in the workplace.  The law requires the employees to ensure that the employers maintain a safety and health work environment for the employees.   It also empowers the Secretary of Labor to conduct an investigation to determine whether the condition in the workplace exposes the workers and the employees to possible injuries and accidents.  The Secretary, after the investigation, may issue a citation to the employer if it believes that the employer violated a standard or rule under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.  The citation shall be in writing and shall describe the nature of the violation of the employer to afford the employer the opportunity to dispute the findings of the investigator.

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Upon investigation, the Secretary of Labor is empowered to issue such orders as may be necessary to avoid, correct or remove the cause of the imminent danger to the employees.  The Secretary is empowered to notify the employer of his failure to ensure a safe working environment.  If the employer fails or refuses to correct the assessment, the Secretary is empowered to impose penalty against the employer. 

            The Secretary is empowered to assess civil penalty against the employer who is found to have violated the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.  The Secretary may assess a civil penalty of not more than $70,000 for each violation but less than $5,000 for each willful violation.

It may also file an action in the court to ensure that the proper steps are taken for the protection of the employees.              If the court finds that the workplace exposes the employees to accidents and injuries it may issue a temporary restraining order or an injunction so that the employers may be prevented from continuing the conduct of the work unless the employees are fully protected. 

Should the employees perceive that the Secretary of Labor is remiss in its obligation in filing a suit in the appropriate court so that a mandamus may be issued and the Secretary may be required to file an action in the appropriate court for the protection of the rights of the employees.  

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