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OSHA 101: The History and The Construction Industry

OSHA: The History

On December 29th, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the first Occupational Safety and Health Act, or the OSH Act, protecting employers and employees across America. The original law signed in 1970 still stands mostly true today with minor updates, and is consistently enforcing standards and aid for workers, including training, education, and assistance in most departments. The OSH Act is a part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is run by the United States Department of Labor. OSHA was put in place to ensure the safety and health of the working people and to provide information to guarantee that all employees feel fully protected in their workplace. 


OSHA: General Overview

OSHA breaks up the workforce into four major industries:

  • Agricultural
  • Construction
  • Maritime
  • General industry

General industry refers to all trades not included within the other industries mentioned. Any company that falls under “general industry” must follow the overall qualifications that apply to all companies covered by OSHA. Jobs that fall within the other categories have distinct standards that hold priority over the general standards.


OSHA: The Construction Industry

The safety standards set out by OSHA for the construction industry are explicit.  OSHA specifies safety qualifications that must be satisfied on a job site, including job site security precautions, training and education, and what protective gear in must be used in the field.

One of the first things stated in the OSHA training requirements handbooks is that employers are required “to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” This might seem like a simple standard, but construction is a high hazard industry that comprises a wide range of activities: residential and commercial construction, bridge erection, roadway paving, excavations, demolitions, and more. Construction workers engage in activities that expose them to serious hazards like falling from elevated surfaces, unguarded machinery, being struck by heavy equipment, electrocutions, dust, asbestos and more.

OSHA provides easy access to safety and health information, policies for enforcing standards, directives to assure consistency with the agency and many alerts, policies and research on safety practices for a wide range of situations and practices.


*Watchdog’s intern, Alana McCaffrey, contributed to this post.

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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