As OSHA begins its fourth decade, the agency said it is meeting its mandate to see workers go home whole and healthy.
Since President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act on Dec. 29, 1970, work-related fatalities are down 50 percent and occupational injuries have declined by 40 percent, the agency said.
"The OSH Act established that America''s workplaces should be free of hazards that threaten the lives and health of workers," said Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. "We have made significant progress towards that goal."
Among it many success stories, OSHA said the cotton dust standard stands out as a clear win for workers, employers and the U.S. economy.
The number of workers with byssinosis or "brown lung" has fallen during the past 22 years from 12,000 to about 700 today.
Other highlights include standards on hazard communication, bloodborne pathogens and ergonomics, the agency''s Voluntary Protection Program and strategic partnerships, free consultations for small employers and the extensive educational material on the agency''s Web site.
According to OSHA, during the past 30 years, more than 700 work sites under topnotch safety and health programs have been recognized under the Voluntary Protection Program, and the agency is currently participating in nearly 100 additional specialized partnerships to find and fix hazards covering almost 110,000 employees across the country.
Likewise, more than 2.1 million individuals have taken safety and health training through OSHA-sponsored programs, while nearly 400,000 employers, mostly small businesses, have received free consultations to help them correct 3 million hazards.
The following milestones mark some of OSHA''s progress over the past 30 years in improving working environments for America''s workforce:
May 29, 1971 First standards adopted to provide baseline for safety and health protections.
June 23,1978 Cotton dust standard promulgated.
Nov. 14, 1978 Lead standard published.
July 2, 1982 Voluntary Protection Programs created.
Nov. 25, 1983 Hazard communication standard promulgated.
Dec. 31, 1987 Grain handling facilities standard adopted.
Dec. 6, 1991 Occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens standard.
Oct. 1, 1992 Education Center created.
Aug. 9, 1994 Fall protection standard revised.
Sept. 4, 1995 Formal launch of OSHA''s expanded Web site.
June 6, 1996 Phone-fax complaint handling policy adopted.
Aug. 30, 1996 Scaffold standard published.
Nov. 9, 1998 OSHA Strategic Partnership Program launched.
Nov. 14, 2000 Ergonomics program standard promulgated.
by Virginia Sutcliffe