Intro to OSHA 101

"Intro to OSHA" provides an introduction to the purpose of OSHA and how its standards and guidelines affect employers and employees. Most U.S. workplaces are covered by OSHA, and its existence has greatly improved workplace safety. Some industries are not covered by OSHA, however, and some states have safety programs that take the place of OSHA. OSHA standards are enforceable by law. Compliance with OSHA standards is enforced by inspections and record keeping, which have specific steps and requirements. Employers and employees have different rights and responsibilities regarding OSHA standards.

Both employers and employees benefit from basic knowledge about OSHA's purpose, standards, and practices. Violations of OSHA standards are punishable by law and render the workplace unsafe for all personnel. A basic awareness of the standards, rights, and responsibilities will help employees to bolster workplace safety as well as keep the workplace legally compliant.

Class Details

Class Name:
Intro to OSHA 101
Number of Lessons:

Class Outline

  • What is OSHA?
  • OSHA Coverage
  • OSHA Standards
  • Hazards
  • Reviewing OSHA Basics
  • Compliance
  • Inspection Priorities
  • Onsite Inspections: Steps
  • Onsite Inspections: Employee Involvement
  • OSHA Inspections
  • Employer Responsibilities
  • Employer Rights
  • Employee Responsibilities
  • Employee Rights
  • Rights and Responsibilities
  • Variances
  • Statistics and Reporting
  • Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
  • Information and Training
  • Final Review


  • Define OSHA.
  • Distinguish between employees covered by OSHA and those who are not.
  • Define "standard" as used by OSHA.
  • Describe the various hazards covered by OSHA standards.
  • Describe OSHA's compliance program.
  • List the order of priority for OSHA inspections.
  • List the steps in an OSHA inspection.
  • Describe the involvement of employees in OSHA onsite inspections.
  • Describe employer responsibilities for workplace safety standards.
  • Describe the rights of employers regarding OSHA standards.
  • Describe employee responsibilities for maintaining workplace safety.
  • Describe the rights of employees in regards to OSHA safety standards.
  • Define "variance." Distinguish between the types of variances.
  • Describe OSHA recordkeeping and reporting requirements for employers. Describe the effect that OSHA has had on workplace accidents.
  • Explain recordable incident standards.
  • Describe methods of obtaining further information on workplace safety.

Job Roles


  • CMfgA
  • MSSC Fast Track Safety


Vocabulary Term Definition
Clean Air Act A United States federal law which specifies the standards for air quality and the control of air pollution. Enacted in 1970, the Clean Air Act was amended in 1977 and 1990.
closing conference The final step of an OSHA compliance inspection. During the closing conference, the compliance officer discusses the hazards discovered during the inspection.
compliance officers An OSHA representative who enforces OSHA standards. Compliance officers conduct inspections and investigations.
compliance program The program through which OSHA enforces its standards. Inspection is at the center of the compliance program.
Department of Labor The U.S. cabinet department in charge of work-related issues. The Department of Labor exists to foster workers' welfare, improve working conditions, and promote opportunities for profitable employment.
establishment A single physical location where business is conducted or where services are performed. One employer may have multiple establishments.
experimental variance A limited exception to or temporary deviation from an OSHA standard. Experimental variances are granted for the purposes of testing new, alternative methods of compliance.
fire doors Fire-resistant doors designed to prevent the spread of flames between rooms or other sections of a building. Fire doors are part of emergency response systems.
flammable An object or substance that can quickly catch fire. Flammable items ignite at low temperatures.
Form 300A An OSHA form that summarizes annual work-related injuries and illnesses. Form 300A allows employees to see injury and illness numbers for their workplace.
general duty clause A statement within the OSH Act that covers situations for which there is no specific standard. The general duty clause requires employers to furnish places of employment that are free from recognized hazards to the health and safety of their employees.
guidelines OSHA recommendations to follow a particular practice or method. Guidelines do not incur penalties for non-compliance.
hazards A source of potential danger to a worker's health and safety. Hazards include harmful substances and missing machine guards.
jobsite The physical location where a job is performed. A jobsite may be a building, facility, or temporary work location such as a construction site.
light duty Decreased or modified job duties required due to a medical condition. Light duty allows an employee to heal from an injury, illness, or surgery.
machine guards A shield or device covering hazardous areas of a machine. Machine guards may prevent contact with body parts or control hazards, like chips, from exiting the machine.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA. A government agency under the U.S. Dept. of Labor that sets the standards for working conditions in the United States. OSHA ensures that employees work in safe and healthy environments.
OSH Act The Occupational Safety and Health Act. The OSH Act was passed in 1970 to assure safe and healthful working conditions through standards, enforcement, research, information, education, and training.
OSHA Outreach Training Program OSHA's primary system of training employees in the basics of occupational safety and health. The OSHA Outreach Training Program provides two certification levels in four different subject areas.
OSHA Training Institute Education Centers OTI Education Centers. Independently run, non-profit regional training centers that perform OSHA-approved safety training. OTI Education Centers certify outreach trainers and provide training on advanced topics.
permanent variance A constant, unchanging exception or allowed deviation from an OSHA standard that has a continuous duration. Permanent variances are granted if the workplace is as safe as it would be under the standard.
personal protective equipment PPE. Any item that workers wear or use to prevent injury in the workplace. Safety glasses are common personal protective equipment.
private sector All employers that are separate from the government. The private sector includes most companies and busineses.
public sector Any employer that is a department or agency of the government. The public sector includes any employee whose wages are paid by taxes.
recordable incident Any injury or illness that must be recorded under OSHA standards. Recordable incidents are work-related and require medical attention beyond basic first aid.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary of HHS. The head of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Secretary of HHS exerts control over the U.S. government agency charged with protecting the health of citizens.
Secretary of Labor The head of the Department of Labor. The Secretary of Labor exerts control over the department, and takes part in suggesting and enforcing laws.
sprinkler systems A network of pipes, valves, and/or nozzles designed to prevent the spread of fire. Sprinkler systems automatically deliver water or other extinguishing material to an area where flames are present.
standards OSHA policy on a particular practice or method. OSHA standards have the same power as law, and non-compliance can result in fines and other penalties.
temporary variance An exception or allowed deviation from an OSHA standard that has a limited duration. Temporary variances are granted to employers unable to comply with a standard by its effective date.
toxic Poisonous or harmful. Toxic substances may cause harm due to physical contact or inhalation.
Toxic Substances Control Act TSCA. A U.S. federal law that regulates chemicals. Under the TSCA, the Environmental Protection Agency tests chemicals then creates and enforces restrictions based on their toxicity.
variance An exception to or allowed deviation from an OSHA standard. Variances are granted to employers who are unable to meet a standard, or who have provided approved alternative safety measures.
walkaround The portion of an OSHA compliance inspection during which the compliance officer physically examines the workplace. Walkarounds allow the officer to inspect for hazards and speak with employees.
whistleblower An employee who reports or otherwise exposes possible wrongdoing at his or her workplace. Whistleblowers are protected under some labor laws.