For Labor Day: Celebrate a Milestone in Workplace Safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1970, and America’s first workplace safety standards were adopted in May 1971. At that time, the nation boasted some 56 million workers at 3.5 million job sites. Today, there are nearly seven million sites and 115 million workers—and OSHA has helped cut job fatalities in half and to reduce workplace injuries by 40 percent. Here are some milestones in the agency’s 43-year history: For Labor Day: Celebrate a Milestone in Workplace Safety

  • May 1975. OSHA creates a free consultation program that has now served more than 500,000 businesses.
  • April 1978. The New Directions Grants program (now the Susan Harwood Training Grants program) is established to spearhead safety training for employers and workers. The program has trained more than 1.3 million people.
  • November 1978. A standard is established to reduce workplace lead exposure.
  • February 1980. The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right of workers to engage in safety and health-related activities. 
  • November 1983. OSHA sets hazard communication standards to provide information on training and labeling of toxic materials for manufacturing companies.
  • March 1989. Hazardous waste operations and emergency response standards are established to protect workers exposed to toxic waste.
  • December 1991. Standards are established to protect workers from blood-borne pathogens carrying the AIDS virus, hepatitis B, and other diseases.
  • February 1992. Standards are adopted for the safe management of highly hazardous chemicals to reduce risk of fire and explosion.
  • August 1994. OSHA’s asbestos standard is updated to cut permissible exposures in half.
  • August 2004. Procedures are established for handling whistleblower complaints under the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002 (the Sarbanes-Oxley Act).

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