The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) encourages states to develop their own job safety enforcement programs, but the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is one of 26 states that do not have one. Pennsylvania's job safety standards are covered by federal OSHA regulations, administered through six area offices. Employers can get assistance in meeting OSHA standards through a free, independent consultation program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Employees can report hazards online or by calling any OSHA office.
Federal OSHA Regulations
Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA has established a comprehensive set of health and safety regulations that apply directly to all 26 states that have not adopted a state plan to develop and enforce standards. Federal regulations are divided into general industry, maritime and construction standards. The complete set of regulations and all of the state plans are available online at the OSHA website.
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Pennsylvania OSHA Standards and Enforcement
Under federal OSHA regulations, every employer in Pennsylvania must provide a place of employment that is "free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees." Employees also are required to comply with occupational safety standards.
There are thousands of specific regulations that apply to individual industries and workplaces. The Department of Labor has both the right and the obligation to conduct inspections in order to identify hazards and enforce safety standards. Since Pennsylvania does not have its own OSHA regulations, it must conduct inspections and enforce federal regulations through its area offices in Allentown, Erie, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre (see Resources for addresses).
Required Workplace Posters
The Department of Labor requires employers to display posters in the workplace that describe both OSHA standards and employees rights. These may include both state and federal notices.
Pennsylvania notices include summaries of the minimum wage and equal pay laws, a reminder to notify employers about work-related injuries, information about employment provisions of the PA Human Relations Act, information about unemployment compensation, a summary of the Worker and Community Right to Know Act, an abstract of the Child Labor Law and a statement about hours that minors under 18 are allowed to work.
Federal notices include a statement about the Equal Employment Opportunity law (including the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act), notification of the federal minimum wage, information about employee polygraph protection, a statement that federal OSHA is the law, information about the Family and Medical Leave Act and a list of rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
The exact posters may differ according to the size and nature of the business. They are available in multiple languages and may be downloaded free from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
Employer Consultation Program
The Pennsylvania OSHA Consultation Program is funded by the state and federal government and administered independently by the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. It is designed to help employers with immediate safety issues as well as ongoing worker protection programs, according to the program website. The process can help employers avoid OSHA citations and reduce workers compensation costs by decreasing workplace injuries and illness. It is a voluntary program, but employers must agree to document that they have correct hazards by an agreed-upon deadline and involve employee representatives in the process, including the on-site inspection. Requests for a consultation may be submitted online.
If a safety hazard in the workplace is an emergency, involves a death or presents an imminent life-threatening situation, call OSHA's emergency number immediately at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742); TTY users can call 1-877-889-5627. Otherwise, safety hazards and concerns may be reported online using OSHA's complaint form.
- U.S. Deptartment of Labor: State Occupational Safety and Health Plans
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania OSHA Consultation Program
- Healthcare Environmental Resource Center: Occupational Safety and Health State Resource Locator: Pennsylvania
- U.S. Deptartment of Labor: Occupational Safety & Health Administration
- mobile contruction worker image by Tracy Martinez from Fotolia.com