The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA is a federal agency of the government that is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of safety and health regulations and under the Department of Labor. The head of the agency is the Assistant Secretary of Labor of OSHA who shall be under the supervision of the Secretary of Labor, under the U.S. Executive Department (OSHA, 2013). The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 or otherwise known as the “OSH Act” was created for the purpose of prevent work place fatality or to prevent the workers from being severely harmed while at work. OSHA contributes to the core functions of public health by setting the guidelines and safety and health standards and at the same time to give information, training, and assistance to the employers and the laborers (Hartnett, 1996). Before a particular standard can be implemented by OSHA, it has to undergo
a long process that includes substantial participation of the public, notice, due process and giving them the opportunity to comment. It is vital for the agency to establish the fact that there is major risk to the workers and that the employer has the chance to deter the danger from occurring by taking precautionary measures to protect their workers.
OSHA influences the workplace in such a way that it lays the standards and guidelines that are in accordance with law by providing for the methods where the employers will ensure that their employees are protected from hazards. The agency will ensure that there is an expeditious delivery of health care services to the workers since health care providers will be compelled to follow the health standards in the workplace set by the agency. There are five major components which comprise a standard health care system which are: The first component will be the facilities that indicates the place where the health care service is being performed; The second component is the work force, or the people who will provide the health care service; The third component will be the suppliers or the providers of health care therapeutics that will cover the pharmaceuticals and medical equipment; The fourth component will be the educational and research institutions that are assigned to teach the work force on how to deliver quality medical service and how to enhance the delivery of the medical service; and the last component will be the financial mechanism or the funding to be used to operate the heath care systems (Jonas, Goldsteen and Goldsteen, 2007). In the country such as America and even other industrialized nations all over the world, it has been identified that there are five major types of health care service sectors that cover the private health care sector, the government sector or the health authorities, other agencies of the government providing health care functions, other voluntary health care agencies, and the non-health care business that offer health care service (Jonas, Goldsteen and Goldsteen, 2007).
The role of the agency is to influence health systems to focus on good governance because it will promote actual delivery of health services. In the case of public providers providing medical care, it is essential that there are appropriate standards, incentives, information, and accountabilities, which will induce improved performance from public providers (Lewis and Pettersson, 2009, p. 22). The influence of the agency is to ensure that good governance will prevent corruption since poor management will bear a negative effect in the performance of the health sector. Thus, OSHA will motivate the healthcare administrators to focus on good governance and for the health care providers to improve on the delivery of the health care service (Lewis and Pettersson, 2009).
The role of the agency workers employed by the OSHA is to pursue criminal prosecutions against employers who fail to maintain a safe work environment for its employees. The agency workers should conduct and ocular inspection in order to determine whether the employers complied with the safety standards of the agency for the enforcement of safety and health laws. The officers and employees of the OSHA should enforce the law as part of their responsibilities. On the part of the workers, it is their ethical and professional responsibility to report the incident the attorney general of the state where the factory is located in case the employer violated the health and safety standards imposed by OSHA. The advocates of OSHA claim that the agency has a positive impact in promoting the welfare of the workers. Without OSHA, the rate for injuries and fatalities inside the workplace would have increased (De Bernardo, 2001).
As part of the responsibilities and duties of agency workers, they must follow both the federal and state OSHA inspection policies. This will include the obligation of the OSHA workers to abide by the statutory requirement of investigating all valid complaints and to follow the federal policy through the investigation of catastrophes, fatalities even during periods of labor unrest (GAO, 2000). Some of the skills and competencies required by OSHA workers is that they must be experts in identifying and rectify the occupational hazards by modification of the injury and illness prevention programs of employers. OSHA workers should have an excellent background in providing security and safety inside the work environment. Some of the required skills that OSHA workers should possess include prevention of trenching cave-ins, preventive measures to cure infectious diseases, safety inside confined spaces, first aid treatment to harmful substances such as lead and asbestos, knowledge in operating machines, respirators or other safety equipment, and the ability to conduct trainings for dangerous occupations (OSHA, 2013). OSHA workers must be experts in giving free confidential advice to help the employers improve their programs and services.
In order to become competent OSHA worker, OSHA has provided a definition for the term “competent person”, which refers to an individual who has the capacity to determine the current and known hazards inside the workplace and who has been authorized to enforce corrective measures to remove such hazards (OSHA, 2013). The competent person must be equipped with training, background and experience of the applicable standards relating to the hazards in the work setting and empowered by the agency to rectify the hazards. The OSHA workers must be able to advice the employers to rectify safety and health problems inside the workplace and to permanently remove the hazards, aside from providing personal protective gears such as masks, gloves and ear plugs (OSHA, 2013).
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U.S. General Accounting Office (2000). OSHA Inspections at Establishments Experiencing
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Jonas, S.,. Goldsteen, R. L. and Goldsteen, K. (2007). Introduction to the U.S. Health Care
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Lewis, M. and Pettersson, G. (2009). Governance in Health Care Delivery Raising Performance.
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