Which Government Agency Does OSHA Fall Under?

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administrative (OSHA) is a legislatively created agency tasked with enforcing various labor laws and workplace guidelines. OSHA is part of the executive branch's Department of Labor and deals with issues ranging from hazardous chemicals to unsafe equipment. Workers fearing their work environment may be unsafe can contact a local OSHA office to request an unannounced inspection of the premises. OSHA also protects employees by prohibiting firing, demotion or any other form of punishment in response to filing of an OSHA complaint.

Department of Labor

OSHA is a subagency within the U.S. Department of Labor. The Labor Department is responsible for enforcing regulations pertaining to all aspects of the U.S. workforce, including disability, workplace discrimination, wages, work hours, child labor and unemployment. The head of the department is known as the secretary of labor and is a member of the president's Cabinet. OSHA is led by the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. Other subagencies within the department include the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Office of Worker's Compensation and the Women's Bureau.

Duties of OSHA

OSHA is responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), which ensures safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by enforcing standards and providing outreach, education and assistance. OSHA also offers training programs to perpetuate workplace compliance with the conditions of the OSH Act. If an employer is potentially violating the OSH Act, OSHA investigators will conduct inspections, often without notice, to determine if the employer is meeting OSH Act standards. If not, OSHA will issue citations and require the employer to update procedures and equipment to meet OSHA's requirements.

Executive Branch

OSHA, as part of the Department of Labor, is considered a sector within the executive branch of the federal government. Of the three branches, the executive branch is responsible for the enforcement of laws as enacted by the legislative branch (Congress). OSHA does not make labor laws but can enact administrative regulations that enable OSHA officers to make sure the labor laws in place are being followed. The president is informed of any OSHA-related issues through his secretary of labor, who works closely with OSHA officials to stay abreast of labor and workforce concerns.


The OSH Act delineates the rules and laws that OSHA must enforce. The act contains 34 sections and covers topics ranging from duties to penalties. Congress enacted the OSH Act after finding that personal injuries and illnesses arising from work situations were hindering interstate commerce in terms of lost production, wage loss, medical expenses and disability compensation payments.

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