Why the History of OSHA Matters

history of OSHA

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is the primary reason aerial lift and scissor lift certification and training exist in the first place. Without OSHA, there wouldn’t be any government agency to enforce training standards, safety policies, and other important rules and regulations related to safety in the workplace.

OSHA was formed way back in 1971. Thus, OSHA is older than many aerial lift and scissor lift operators working today – perhaps including you! Since the early 1970s, OSHA has steadily increased their safety guidelines for aerial lifts and scissor lifts.

But how often do these updates occur? And what are some of the milestone safety updates that have impacted scissor lift and aerial lift use? The history of OSHA is more fascinating than you might expect.

The safety experts here at AerialLiftCertification.com went back through the history books, legislation records, and other documents to find some interesting answers for you! For example, the OSHA 2015 updates are different from the OSHA 2018 updates. More recently, changes in safety legislation have prompted safety supervisors, aerial lift operators, and everyone in between to ensure their safety training is up to date, based on OSHA 2019 updates and modifications.

Since we’re always staying up to date with OSHA legislation changes and tweaks to safety rules, we have a better idea than everyone else about OSHA’s safety updates. That’s just one more reason why your company should sign up with AerialLiftCertification.com today.

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What is the History of OSHA?

Many people ask us: what is the history of OSHA? OSHA is an agency run by the U.S. Department of Labor. It works with state agencies to ensure safe work conditions for all workers across the United States.

Prior to OSHA, employers were held responsible for creating safe work conditions for their employees. But, there was no guarantee that employers would do everything possible to safeguard workers against accidents, injuries, and other on-the-job hazards.

With the creation of OSHA, employers were held accountable for workplace safety. Since its inception, OSHA has helped reduce the number of workplace accidents, injuries, and fatalities nationwide. OSHA continues to explore ways to continuously improve work conditions for all employees, across all industries as well.

The history and purpose of OSHA is to ensure workers can enjoy safe, healthy work conditions. To achieve its goal, OSHA establishes and enforces workplace safety standards. OSHA also provides training and assistance to help employers protect workers against on-the-job dangers.

The Evolution of OSHA Policies

One of the most significant changes to OSHA occurred in 1979, when the government agency began seeking criminal prosecution and lawsuits for fatal workplace accidents. Prior to the late 1970s, OSHA was regarded by most companies as a safety guideline more than anything else.

From the early 1980s to the present day, OSHA history has continued to evolve. From promoting college graduates with scientific degrees as safety inspectors to mandating warning labels on hazardous substances, OSHA’s reputation really took hold in the 1980s and 1990s. Thanks to aggressive inspection and audit techniques – most accidents involving aerial lifts and scissor lifts received inspections – many companies were forced to take safety more seriously.

OSHA is mainly associated with the safety guidelines issued for “blue collar” workplaces, but they actually oversee workplace safety across all places of employment in the United States. Whether you work in an office, a school, a warehouse, or on a construction site, turn to OSHA  for guidance on safety.

Aerial lifts have always been a focus of OSHA safety rules, simply given the elevated heights and hazards associated with this type of work.  The main OSHA standards that regulate aerial lift and scissor lift use include 29 CFR 1910.67, 29 CFR 1910.269(p), 29 CFR 1926.21, 29 CFR 1926.453, 29 CFR 1926.502. Some of OSHA’s most well-known aerial lift safety announcements include:

2002 – Key Switch Controlled Elevating and Rotating Aerial Lifts

2005 – Aerial Lift Fact Sheet

2011 – Aerial Lift Fall Protection Over Water in Shipyards

2012 – Snow Removal and Other Hazards (useful aerial lift operator resource)

Recent Requirements: OSHA Updates for Reporting and More

One of the most important updates in the history of OSHA had to do with accident and injury reporting. Since 2015, OSHA requires all employers to report work fatalities within eight hours, and all hospitalizations within 24 hours. Unlike other years, the OSHA 2015 updates truly had a significant impact on the way businesses handle workplace accidents.

And that’s not all – the OSHA 2018 updates included further modifications to injury and accident reporting. In 2018, OSHA required employers to digitize all information related to injury, illnesses and accidents. Also known as OSHA 300A / Electronic Recordkeeping Requirement provision, this major part of the OSHA 2018 updates still impacts businesses and employers today!

As a direct result of the 300A requirement, the OSHA 2019 updates had an important employee information privacy policy enacted. It seems like many of the OSHA 2019 updates are increasingly concerned with protecting sensitive data. That’s no surprise, considering other federal initiatives (such as HIPAA) are designed to provide an extra measure on confidentiality for all information related transactions (hiring, HR records, etc.).

OSHA continues to publish useful information for aerial lift and scissor lift operators, safety personnel, and other employees related to safe aerial work platform (AWP) use. In 2011, the agency posted their popular fact sheet on aerial lifts, which contains plenty of helpful info. The fact sheet covers:

– Common hazards

– Proper operating techniques

– Training

– Fall protection

– Overhead protection

– Work zone stability

For a comprehensive overview of OSHA standards, don’t miss their Scaffolding eTool, which offers a complete rundown of safe operating methods, applicable OSHA safety rules, and other information.

A Commitment to Personal Safety

The history of OSHA was changed forever by COVID-19. The government agency had to quickly develop policies, procedures, and best practices to prevent the spread of coronavirus on the job. Workers were required to wear face masks, practice social distancing, and wash their hands frequently. While the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is in the rearview, this era of OSHA history has ushered in a new focus on personal safety.

Workers must be proactive to keep illness at bay. Though masks are no longer required, some employees are opting to don them to stave off cold and flu season. Washing hands remains a smart strategy for staying healthy all year long. PPE is as important as ever, with OSHA requiring head, eye, hearing, hand, foot, and fall protection gear on job sites. Failure to wear the appropriate PPE can result in accidents, injuries, and even fatalities, so workers owe it to themselves to don the right gear.

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Keep Up with Ever-Changing OSHA History

OSHA history is in a constant state of flux. It can be a challenge to stay abreast with all the latest safety guideline updates. Whether you’re a safety coordinator, aerial lift operator, or work in Human Resources, keeping current with OSHA regulations can be a full time job in itself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all, allow AerialLiftCertification.com to do the heavy lifting.

Our convenient online courses are automatically updated to reflect OSHA regulatory changes. It’s easy to miss out on key safety knowledge if you’re not paying close attention to OSHA rules. With AerialLiftCertification.com, you’ll have everything you need to stay in compliance with OSHA regulations. 

If you’re feeling uncertain about an OSHA requirement, give our team of experts a call at (888) 278-8896. When you’re ready to sign up for our classes and get started, it’s as easy as clicking here! Either way, you’ll be taking a great first step toward 100 percent OSHA compliance.

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