Health and Safety

Write a 2–3-page executive memorandum regarding OSHA and its effectiveness in the workplace.



Definition of Employer

The term “employer” can sometimes be difficult to define. For OSHA, this is not the case. An employer is any “person engaged in a business affecting commerce” (OSHA, 1970). This statute creates the mission of providing safe and healthful working conditions. The Secretary of Labor is responsible for OSHA’s administration both in development of standards and inspection and enforcement.

OSHA covers nearly all private employers. OSHA imposes a general safety duty, which requires a workplace to be free of recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical injury. For purposes of OSHA, the workplace is anywhere work is performed. The statute requires employers to report illness or injuries and keep detailed records. There are also specific safety standards pertaining to specific industries. The four main categories of work considered are general industry, maritime, construction, and agriculture. OSHA also requires employers to display posters explaining employees’ rights to a safe workplace (OSHA, 1970).


When an accident results in death or hospitalization of four or more workers, there must be a complete report to OSHA within eight hours. While the safety mission of OSHA pertains to almost all employers, those that must keep records of work-related illnesses or injuries are businesses that employ 11 or more employees. If an employer does not keep required records, severe civil penalties may be imposed. In addition to listing specific illnesses and injuries, such as cancer, needle sticks, and tuberculosis, the employer must keep “accurate records of employee exposures to potentially toxic materials or harmful physical agents” (OSHA, 1970). These records must include environmental and biological monitoring data, material safety data sheets, and all records disclosing the identity of the substance in question. Employees and their representatives, such as unions, must be provided access to the monitoring or measuring. In most cases, these records must be maintained for 30 years.


The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the primary OSHA enforcement agency. It conducts inspections both routinely and as a result of employee complaints. When violations are identified, citations that categorize them are issued and remedies are suggested. In a typical case, a suggested remedy will consist of two parts: correcting the violation and paying a fine. The employer has 15 days to challenge the finding or the proposed remedy. Employees also have 15 days to contest the time frame or abatement.

The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC)

The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) is the body that adjudicates health and safety disputes. An uncontested citation becomes a final order upon this review. However, challenged decisions may be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals within 60 days.

If there is a willful violation that causes death, criminal charges may be brought against an employer. Advance notice of an inspection and false statements in reports required by the statute are also grounds for charges. There are other safety statutes at the federal and state levels; however, OSHA is the most far-reaching.

Safety Issues

One of the more interesting current workplace safety issues is smoking in the workplace. State statutes trigger action in this area if air quality standards fall below OSHA-allowable limits. There is no federal law banning or controlling smoking in the workplace; however, there are numerous state statutes, as well as city and county ordinances. In addition, many states have enacted laws making it illegal to discriminate against employees who smoke during off hours.


Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), 29 U.S.C. 651–678 (1970).

Suggested Resources

  • Safety Compliance Letter Staff. (2013). OSHA’s monitoring efforts garner criticism. Safety Compliance Letter, (2548), 1–6.
  • Coniglio, J. (2010). OSHA inspections. Professional Safety, 55(12), 39–41.
  • Poole, P. (2008). When OSHA knocks. Occupational Hazards, 70(2), 59–62.
  • Wenner, S. J. (2012). OSHA moves closer to proposing rule requiring all covered employers to create, implement, and enforce injury and illness prevention programs. Employee Relations Law Journal, 38(1), 28–31.
  • Safety Compliance Letter Staff. (2013). What’s ahead on OSHA’s regulatory agenda. Safety Compliance Letter, (2547), 1–12.
  • Mavity, H. (2012). OSHA: Don’t get caught in the trap of rewarding employees for reducing recordables! EHS Today, 5(9), 39–41.
  • Nash, J. L. (2004). In defense of OSHA enforcement: The view from the top. Occupational Hazards, 66(3), 22.


Employee health and safety in the workplace is a topic of scrutiny, discussion, and debate at all levels of government. Use the Capella University Library and/or articles found in the Resources to support your analysis with at least two current, scholarly, or professional resources. While it is not necessary to follow a specific executive memorandum template, you may want to review online resources and use headings and subheadings to help organize key points.


Write a 2–3-page executive memorandum to organizational leadership regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and its effectiveness in the workplace. Include the following:

  • Describe the mission and function of OSHA. What is OSHA intended to do? Is it working?
  • Analyze the impact of OSHA in modern organizations. What does the HRM professional need to know about OSHA?
  • Analyze the cost of regulations and enforcement, versus the benefit in reduced worker injury. Is the cost of regulations and enforcement worth the results?
  • Develop health- and safety-related best practices for human resources and organizational leadership. Are there different perspectives toward interpretation, monitoring, and compliance with OSHA, and do the differing perspectives enhance or hinder workplace safety?

Your executive memorandum is to be written coherently to support a central idea with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics as expected of a business professional. Support your assessment with citations from relevant readings, and use real-world organization examples to demonstrate the importance of the concepts and analysis you have provided.

Additional Requirements

  • References: Support your assessment with citations from the Capella University Library and/or suggested materials in the Resources, workplace examples, and any relevant additional research.
  • Format: Use proper APA style and format for in-text citations and references.
  • Length: 2–3 double-spaced, typed pages, in addition to the references page.
  • Written communication: Demonstrate graduate-level writing skills through accurate communication of thoughts that convey the overall goals of the analysis and do not detract from the message.
  • Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12 point.

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