Workplace Health and Safety

Background

In addition to setting standards with respect to the minimum wage, overtime, and other factors affecting worker pay, the federal government also sets standards for workplace health and safety. Since its creation by Congress in 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the Department of Labor has been charged with ensuring safe and healthful working conditions. OSHA accomplishes its mission through standard setting and providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. According to OSHA guidelines, employers must keep their workplaces free of known health and safety hazards. And workers have the right to speak up about hazards without fear of retaliation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for ensuring safety in the workplace. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for preventing and reducing transmission among employees and maintaining healthy business operations and a healthy work environment.

Workplace Health and Safety: Policy

Health and safety of workers

Policymakers must ensure worker safety, particularly during public health emergencies.

Employers should be required to ensure access to personal protective equipment, implement sanitation strategies to prevent disease spread, facilitate social distancing, and accommodate needs for remote work where possible.