Prior to the 1970s, such risks were left to the companies to handle and there was minimal intervention from the federal government by way of work safety-related policies and regulatory standards. By the late 1960s, workplace accidents resulted to the death of an average 14,000 workers per year while an estimated two million more were harmed or disabled. Furthermore, there was too little known about the health effects of the variety of chemicals that were being churned out of factories even as environmental advocates have been raising the alarm on the possible dangers of exposure. This disturbing rates and figures prompted President Nixon to sign the Occupational Safety and Health Act in Dec. 17, 19701.
The enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) marked the first time that a federal program was established to protect and ensure the health and safety of the entire country’s work force by reducing job-related illness, injury, disability, accidents, and death. Then-Secretary of Labor James Hodgson’s first step was to establish the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a special agency within the United States Department of Labor tasked to implement and enforce the said Act; OSHA was established effective April 28, 19712.
In order to carry out the mission which it was set out for, OSHA had to start from scratch, using the Bureau of Labor Standards as the nucleus from which to build up the program3. The OSH Act also established the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as the agency to conduct researches on known and possible work-related safety and health problems and to recommend regulatory standards which OSHA should consider based on their findings; as well as that, NIOSH was also to provide technical assistance to OSHA4.
OSHA’s principal client groups are mainly organized labor and the business community; as such, they have played active roles