While President Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law on December 29, 1970, culminating nearly a century of endeavors by the states and the federal government to mitigate the vulnerabilities of employees exposed to hazards of the industrial age, OSHA officially formed on April 28, 1971, the date that the OSH Act became effective. That same month, George Guenther, the head of Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Standards, became the first Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, and served until 1973.
Enactment of the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) was preceded by vigorous debate that began during the Johnson Administration among government, business and organized labor over the extent to which federal authority would set and enforce workplace safety and health standards.
Fun fact: The first five industries targeted by OSHA for safety hazards were marine cargo handling, roofing and sheet metal work, meat and meat products, miscellaneous transportation equipment (primarily mobile homes) and lumber and wood products. Five health hazards were also targeted: asbestos, lead, silica, carbon monoxide and cotton dust.
1972: OSHA has a number of training, compliance assistance, and health and safety recognition programs throughout its history. The OSHA Training Institute, which trains government and private sector health and safety personnel.
1978: The agency began a grantmaking program, now called the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, to train workers and employers in reducing workplace hazards.
1982: OSHA started the Voluntary Protection Programs, which allow employers to apply as “model workplaces” to achieve special designation if they meet certain requirements.
For more fun in OSHA history visit https://www.osha.gov/history/OSHA_HISTORY_3360s.pdf
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