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Employer Responsibilities

Establish a Safe and Healthful Workplace

Establishing a safe and healthful workplace requires every employer to make safety and health a priority. In general, OSHA requires employers to do the following.

  • Maintain conditions and adopt practices reasonably necessary to protect workers on the job. The first and best strategy is to control the hazard at its source. To do that, the employer can:

    • eliminate or remove the hazard;
    • substitute or replace the hazard; and
    • equipment design or redesign.
  • The basic concept behind elimination, substitution, and design controls is that, to the extent feasible, the work environment and the job itself should be designed to eliminate hazards or reduce the severity of the hazards.

    Click on the button to see more information on hazard controls.

    • Elimination or substitution eliminating or substituting a hazard to reduce risk. Examples include using a pole to change ceiling lights and replacing a toxic cleaner with a non-toxic biodegradable cleaner.
    • Engineering controls include equipment design and redesign, and isolating the exposure source. Examples include installing local exhaust ventilation, placing machine safeguards to prevent exposure to hazardous moving parts, and indirect lighting to reduce eye strain.
    • Warnings such as signs, barrier tape, and alarms help employees become aware of hazards.
    • Administrative controls usually involve developing policies and procedures to control actions. Examples include limiting the duration a workers is exposed to a hazardous source, good housekeeping practices, and safety rules.
    • Personal Protective Equipment is used when exposure to hazards cannot be engineered completely out of normal operations or maintenance work, and when safe work practices and other forms of administrative controls cannot provide sufficient additional protection. PPE includes wearing the proper respiratory protection and clothing.

  • Be familiar with the standards that apply to their workplaces, and comply with these standards.
  • Ensure workers are provided with and use personal protective equipment when needed. When exposure to hazards cannot be engineered completely out of normal operations or maintenance work, and when safe work practices and other forms of administrative controls cannot provide sufficient additional protection, an additional method of control is the use of protective clothing or equipment. This is collectively called personal protective equipment, or PPE. PPE may also be appropriate for controlling hazards while engineering and work practice controls are being installed.

Providing Required OSHA Training


We already discussed your right to receive training from your employer on a variety of health and safety hazards and standards, such as chemical right to know, fall protection, confined spaces and personal protective equipment.

For additional training information, click here to access Training Requirements in OSHA Standards and Training Guidelines.

Many OSHA standards specifically require the employer to train workers in the safety and health aspects of their jobs. Other OSHA standards make it the employer’s responsibility to limit certain job assignments to those who are “certified,” “competent,” or “qualified”—meaning that they have had special previous training, in or out of the workplace.

OSHA believes training is an essential part of protecting workers from injuries and illnesses.

Instruction and Training

The employee must demonstrate adequate KSAs.

OSHA believes that both general and specific safety training is an essential part of every employer's safety and health program for protecting workers from injuries and illnesses.

General Training

OSHA standards address the employer's responsibility to include a general training requirement. The employer must make sure their employees are instructed and trained in:

  1. recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions in the workplace;
  2. OSHA regulations applicable to their work environment; and
  3. how to control or eliminate hazards and exposures to illness or injury.

Specific Training

Other OSHA standards make it the employer's responsibility to limit certain job assignments to employees who are "certified," "competent," or "qualified" - meaning that they have had special previous training, in or out of the workplace. The term "designated" personnel means selected or assigned by the employer or the employer's representative as being qualified to perform specific duties.

Many researchers conclude that those who are new on the job have a higher rate of accidents and injuries than more experienced workers. If OSHA determines that new employees have not received training or are not adequately trained, the current employer will be held responsible regardless of who trained the employees. An employer, therefore, has a responsibility when hiring new employees, who have been previously trained by someone other than the current employer, to evaluate each employee's level of knowledge, skills, and abilities (SKAs) against the training and information requirements of the associated standard.

Industry-Specific Training


Industry-specific training requirements are included in some OSHA standards, particularly in standards put into effect since 1990.

Some examples of specific general industry and/or construction training requirements are:

  • Hazardous Materials Handling
  • Machinery and Machine Guarding
  • Welding, Cutting, and Brazing
  • Electrical Safety
  • Signs, Signals, and Barricades
  • Scaffolding
  • Fall Protection in Construction
  • Cranes, Derricks, Hoists, Elevators, and Conveyors
  • Excavation and trench safety

You may review an introduction to OSH training by clicking here.

For assistance with developing OSH training please click here.

To learn how to conduct OSH training please click here.

To learn more about specific OSH training requirements please click here.

Keeping Injury and Illness Records

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Recordkeeping is an important part of an employer’s responsibilities. Keeping records allows OSHA to collect survey material, helps OSHA identify high-hazard industries, and informs you, the worker, about the injuries and illnesses in your workplace. About 1.5 million employers with 11 or more employees-20 percent of the establishments OSHA covers-must keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses.

All of the following should be accomplished in a recordkeeping program:

  • Set up a reporting system.
  • Provide copies of logs, upon request.
  • Post the annual summary.
  • Report within 8 hours all work-related fatalities occuring within 30 days of the work-related incident.
  • Report to OSHA within 24 hours all work-related injuries resulting in hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye.

Workplaces in low-hazard industries such as retail, service, finance, insurance, and real estate are exempt from recordkeeping requirements.

For specific information on exactly which cases must be recorded, you can go to Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1904–“Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.”

The Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (commonly called the OSHA 300 Log) is used to list injuries and illnesses and track days away from work, restricted, or transferred.

The Injury and Illness Report (Form 301) is used to record more information about each case. Employers can use a workers’ compensation or insurance form, if it contains the same information.

The Summary (OSHA Form 300A) shows the totals for the year in each category. A company executive must certify that he or she has examined the OSHA Log and believes that the annual summary is correct and complete. The summary must be posted from February 1 to April 30 of each year in a place where notices to workers are usually posted, such as an employee bulletin board.

Providing Medical Records

medical exam

We discussed access to medical records earlier when covering worker rights. Employers may be required to conduct monitoring or provide medical examinations when employees are:

  • working with hazardous chemical or substances such as asbestos
  • exposed to lead such as lead-based paints
  • working in jobs that require respirators
  • exposed to high levels of noise
  • working in temperature extremes
  • potentially exposed to radiation

Construction and demolition workers are may be exposed to asbestos. Plumbers, welders, and painters are among those workers most exposed to lead.

Your employer must give you copies of medical or exposure records involving you if you request them. Medical and exposure records must generally be maintained for 30 years, but there are exceptions. See OSHA Publication 3110 for more information on medical records.

Discrimination against Workers who Exercise their Rights

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Section 11(c) of the Act prohibits your employer from discharging or in any manner retaliating against you or any worker for exercising your rights under the Act.

We’ve covered many of your rights under OSHA earlier. Can you recall some of them? Depending upon the circumstances of the case, "discrimination" can include:

  • firing or laying off
  • demoting
  • denying overtime or promotion
  • disciplining
  • reducing pay or hours
  • other actions

If you believe your employer has discriminated against you because you exercised your safety and health rights, contact your local OSHA Office right away. The OSH Act gives you only 30 days to report discrimination.

Posting OSHA Citations and Abatement Verification Notices


An OSHA citation informs the employer and workers of the standards violated, the length of time set for correction, and proposed penalties resulting from an OSHA inspection. Your employer must post a copy of each citation at or near places where the violations occurred for 3 days, or until the violation is fixed (whichever is longer). Employers also have to inform workers of what they have done to fix the violation, allow workers to examine and copy abatement documents sent to OSHA, and tag cited movable equipment to warn workers of the hazard.

Providing and Paying for PPE


As we mentioned earlier, OSHA requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective in reducing these exposures to acceptable levels.

Employers are required to determine if PPE should be used to protect their workers. OSHA also requires that employers pay for most required PPE, except for uniforms, items worn to keep clean, weather-related gear, logging boots, and non-specialty safety toe protective footwear (including steel-toe shoes or steel- toe boots) and non-specialty prescription safety eyewear, as long as the employer permits the items to be worn off the job-site.

For more information, read Employers Must Provide and Pay for PPE handout.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. One of the main responsibilities employers have under OSHA is to _____.

2. OSHA requires that employers pay for most required personal protective equipment (PPE), including which of the following?

3. Which of the following is used to list work-related injuries and illnesses and track days away from work, restricted, or transferred?

4. To maintain and adopt practices reasonably necessary to protect workers, employer should first employ _____.

5. The OSHA Act gives an employee ______ to report discrimination.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.