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Learn About Labor Laws | Workplace Safety Laws

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency in charge of setting standards for workplace safety and health. OSHA also conducts regular workplace inspections to ensure employers are complying with the OSH Act (The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970).

OSHA also offers workplace safety training programs for employers and employees, and special voluntary compliance programs which may circumvent the need for regular inspections. OSHA Expert advisors are also available online.

For more information, click here.

Who is covered by the OSH Act?

All employers and employees in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all other territories under federal government jurisdiction, except:

  • self-employed persons

  • farms at which only immediate members of the farmer's family are employed

  • businesses whose working conditions are regulated by other federal agencies under other federal statutes. This category includes most employment in mining, nuclear energy and nuclear weapons manufacture, and many segments of the transportation industry

  • Employees of state and local governments (unless they are in one of the States with OSHA-approved safety and health programs). The State of Florida does not have its own program. Thus, federal OSHA laws apply.

OSHA standards cary by industry category. The four main categories are:

  • general industry
  • construction
  • maritime
  • agriculture

Though each category has standards which apply only to it, some standards common to all categories.

These include the following:

Reporting injuries:

All employers covered by OSHA must report any workplace incident resulting in a fatality or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees within 3 hours. To report an accident to OSHA, click here for contact information.


All employers, except:

  • those with 10 or fewer employees during all of the last calendar year, or
  • those businesses classified as low-hazard industries like retail, service, finance, insurance or real estate

must keep records of all employee injuries and illness, (even employers exempted above may be required to keep records if OSHA informs them to do so in writing).

Forms needed:

OSHA Form 200 is an injury/illness log, with a separate line entry for each recordable injury or illness (essentially those work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses other than minor injuries that require only first aid treatment and that do not involve medical treatment, loss of consciousness, restriction of work or motion, or transfer to another job).

A summary section of the OSHA Form 200, which includes the total of the previous year's injury and illness experience, must be posted in the workplace for the entire month of February each year.

OSHA Form 101 is an individual incident report that provides added detail about each individual recordable injury or illness. A suitable insurance or workers' compensation form that provides the same details may be substituted for the OSHA Form 101.

Where to get OSHA forms:

Read OSHA's new revised rule on reporting workplace injuries here:(in english)

Access to Medical and Exposure Records: This standard requires that employers grant employees access to any of their medical records maintained by the employer and to any records the employer maintains on the employees' exposure to toxic substances.

Personal Protective Equipment: This standard, included separately in the standards for each industry segment (except agriculture), requires that employers provide employees, at no cost to employees, with personal protective equipment designed to protect them against certain hazards. This can range from protective helmets to prevent head injuries in construction and cargo handling work, to eye protection, hearing protection, hard-toed shoes, special goggles (for welders, for example) and gauntlets for iron.

Hazard Communication: This standard requires that manufacturers and importers of hazardous materials conduct a hazard evaluation of the products they manufacture or import. If the product is found to be hazardous under the terms of the standard, containers of the material must be appropriately labeled and the first shipment of the material to a new customer must be accompanied by a material safety data sheet (MSDS). Employers, using the MSDSs they receive, must train their employees to recognize and avoid the hazards the materials present.

In general, all employers (except those in the construction industry) should be aware that any hazard not covered by an industry-specific standard may be covered by a general industry standard; in addition, all employers must keep their workplaces free of recognized hazards that may cause death or serious physical harm to employees, even if OSHA does not have a specific standard or requirement addressing the hazard. This coverage becomes important in the enforcement aspects of OSHA's work.

All OSHA standards are published in the Federal Register. Annual subscriptions are available from: Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, D.C. 20402

You can also search Federal Register notices by type, date and number online at:

Online help with OSHA compliance:

The OSHA Home Page contains information on other OSHA activities, statistics, media releases, technical assistance, and links to other safety and health Internet sites. OSHA has a number of interactive advisors to assist employers in complying with OSHA standards.

A variety of information is available on OSHA's Publications website , including on-line publication order forms, the OSHA poster, guidance on OSHA recordkeeping, and on-line access to several OSHA publications in PDF format.

Publications by Mail and Phone:

A single free copy of an OSHA catalog, OSHA 2019, "OSHA Publications and Audiovisual Programs," may be obtained by mailing a self-addressed mailing label to the OSHA Publications Office, Room N3101, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20210; telephone (202) 219-4667; fax (202)219-9266. Descriptions of and ordering information for all OSHA publications and audiovisual programs are contained in this catalog.

Questions about OSHA programs, the status of ongoing standards-setting activities, and general inquiries about OSHA may be addressed to the OSHA Office of Information & Consumer Affairs, Room N3637, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20210; telephone (202) 219-8151.

For audio-visual training programs, call the OSHA Institute: 1-708-297-4810



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