Home > ResourcesAgency ResourcesOccupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

AboutWho OSHA Covers | Employer Responsibilities | Dentistry | Additional Information


The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHAct) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The law requires that employers provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. OSHA also provides information, training, and assistance to workers and employers.

To help assure a safe and healthful workplace, OSHA also provides workers with the right to:

  • Receive information and training about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace. The training must be in a language you can understand;
  • Observe testing that is done to find hazards in the workplace and get test results;
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses;
  • Get copies of their medical records;
  • Request OSHA to inspect their workplace; and
  • Use their rights under the law free from retaliation and discrimination.

Who OSHA Covers

Private Sector Workers
Most employees in the nation come under OSHA's jurisdiction. OSHA covers private sector employers and employees in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other US jurisdictions either directly through Federal OSHA or through an OSHA-approved state program. State-run health and safety programs must be at least as effective as the Federal OSHA program. Click here for more information about state OSHA programs.

State and Local Government Workers
Employees who work for state and local governments are not covered by federal OSHA, but have OSH Act protections if they work in those states that have an OSHA-approved state program. Five additional states and one US territory have OSHA-approved plans that cover public sector employees only. This includes Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and the Virgin Islands. Private sector workers in these four states and the Virgin Islands are covered by federal OSHA.

Federal Government Workers
Federal agencies must have a safety and health program that meet the same standards as private employers. Although OSHA does not fine federal agencies, it does monitor federal agencies and responds to workers' complaints. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is covered by OSHA.

Who is not covered by the OSHAct:

  • Self employed;
  • Immediate family members of farm employers that do not employ outside employees; and
  • Workers who are protected by another Federal agency (for example the Mine Safety and Health Administration, FAA, Coast Guard).

OSHA Standards: Protection on the Job
OSHA standards are rules that describe the methods that employers must use to protect their employees from hazards. There are OSHA standards for Construction work, Maritime operations, and General Industry, which is the set that applies to most worksites. These standards limit the amount of hazardous chemicals workers can be exposed to, require the use of certain safe practices and equipment, and require employers to monitor hazards and keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Employers must also comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSHAct, which requires employers to keep their workplace free of serious recognized hazards. This clause is generally cited when no OSHA standard applies to the hazard.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers MUST provide their employees with a workplace that does not have serious hazards and follow all OSHA safety and health standards. Employers must find and correct safety and health problems. OSHA further requires that employers have to try to eliminate or reduce hazards first by making changes in working conditions rather than just relying on masks, gloves, earplugs, or other types of personal protective equipment (PPE). Switching to safer chemicals, enclosing processes to trap harmful fumes, or using ventilation systems to clean the air are examples of effective ways to get rid of or minimize risks.

Employers must also:

  • Inform employees about hazards through training, labels, alarms, color-coded systems, chemical information sheets, and other methods.
  • Keep accurate records of work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • Perform tests in the workplace, such as air sampling required by some OSHA standards.
  • Provide hearing exams or other medical tests required by OSHA standards.
  • Post OSHA citations, injury and illness data, and the OSHA poster in the workplace where workers will see them.
  • Notify OSHA within 8 hours of a workplace incident in which there is a death or three or more workers go to a hospital.
  • Not discriminate or retaliate against an employee for using their rights under the law.
    (Source: OSHA)

To learn more about OSHA and visit the OSHA Web site click here.


Dental professionals may be at risk for exposure to numerous biological, chemical, environmental, physical, and psychological workplace hazards. These hazards include but are not limited to the spectrum of bloodborne pathogens, pharmaceuticals and other chemical agents, human factors, ergonomic hazards, noise, vibration, and workplace violence.

The following questions link to information relevant to Dentistry in the workplace:

What OSHA standards apply?
This section highlights OSHA standards related to dentistry and the related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page.

How can workplace hazards be recognized?
Many dental care professionals are at risk for occupational exposure to a variety of hazardous chemicals and situations. Being unaware of the potential hazards in the work environment makes them more vulnerable to injury.

How can exposures to workplace hazards be controlled and prevented?
These references aid in recognizing, controlling, and preventing hazards in the workplace.

What additional information is available?
Other resources. 

Additional OSHA Information

(Source: OSHA)

Back To Top

Last Updated on Sunday, September 24, 2023 03:31 PM