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OSHA and workplace safety in the US

5 min read

OSHA and workplace safety in the US

Here you can find information about health and safety legislation in the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and what this means for lone working in the US.

What is OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a regulatory agency of the United States Department of Labor and was created to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for employees in the United States.

So how can you ensure that your lone working staff are protected whilst at work? In this article, we’ll discuss the main risks and hazards associated with lone working, and take a look at different scenarios where lone working may be considered unsafe.

How does OSHA ensure workplace safety?

OSHA enforces the regulations stated within the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. As a regulatory body it is responsible for both issuing penalties for non compliance and encouraging best practice through the accreditation of training programs.

Who is covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970? 

The OSH Act covers most private sector employers and their workers, in addition to some public sector employers and workers in the 50 states and certain territories and jurisdictions under federal authority.

What are the OSHA regulations?

The OSHA regulations are the health and safety rules which employers in the US are expected to abide by. There are OSHA standards for construction, agriculture, maritime and general industry. Employers also must comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, which requires them to keep their workplaces free of serious recognized hazards.

Find out more about occupational safety and health legislation in the US 

What happens if OSHA standards are violated?

If OSHA standards are violated employers can be given penalties depending on the rules broken and their severity. This can range from thousands of dollars in fines to life in prison for the most serious violations.

What is OSHA certification required for?

OSHA does not certify workers but does offer authorized training courses. Workers can be required by their employer to attend certain courses that teach them how to be safe at work. Many of these courses are known as OSHA outreach training programs and they are commonly required in industries such as construction. To become OSHA certified you must attend an OSHA authorized course, which are offered at several universities and colleges across the United States. 

What are the common workplace risks in the US?

The OSHA regulations aim to minimise the risk of harm to employees from hazards in the workplace through stringent health and safety practices. According to OSHA, typical hazards include: 

  • Slip, trip, and fall hazards
  • Electrical hazards
  • Equipment operation
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Fire protection
  • Work practices
  • Workplace violence
  • Ergonomic problems
  • Lack of emergency procedures

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2018 and 900,380 reported injuries or illnesses that required an employee to miss at least one day of work.


The Occupational Safety and Health Act and lone worker safety 

Lone working in the US is common practice, however working alone can make employees more vulnerable should they encounter any hazards. Under OSHA’s guidelines companies who employ lone workers must account for each employee:

  • Throughout each work shift at regular intervals appropriate to the job assignment to ensure the employee’s safety and health; and

  • At the end of the job assignment or at the end of the workshift, whichever occurs first

Alongside this, employers should also implement their own policies to help ensure the safety of their lone workers.

Monitoring employee safety using lone worker apps

Being able to monitor your employee’s whereabouts is extremely important in keeping them safe, as accidents can occur at any time. 

Regular communications should be maintained with lone working staff and procedures put in place so that employees can quickly communicate with their employer and raise the alarm if needed.

Manual methods of monitoring can be time-consuming, unreliable and often include a large amount of paperwork. Significant advances in mobile technology have led many companies to switch to app-based lone worker solutions to help them monitor and protect their remote staff.

OSHA encourages employers to develop emergency procedures, such as providing a wireless electronic notification device and/or cell phone to lone working employees. 

StaySafe is an easy-to-use app and online monitoring hub that utilises an app downloaded onto employees’ cell phones. 

The app offers a way for lone workers to raise an alarm in a dangerous situation whilst the Hub monitors the location of lone workers in real-time so that assistance can be sent directly to an employee in an emergency.

Before a period of lone work or travel, employees start a timed session on the app which can be viewed by a monitor on the cloud-based Hub. If an employee fails to end their lone working session safely, a session expiry alert will be sent to their employer or chosen monitor.

The app features check-in reminders which prompt users to check-in routinely to confirm that they are safe. If a worker finds themselves in a dangerous situation, they can trigger a panic alert and help can be quickly dispatched to their location. 

Find out more about our lone worker safety app

If you are looking for a lone worker solution trusted by clients all over the globe, we would love to hear from you.

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