The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency working within the United States Department of Labor. It was created in 1970 by Congress under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. As the primary regulatory agency in the field of occupational safety and health, its mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths by issuing and enforcing standards for workplace safety and health.
Several states have also implemented their own occupational safety and health programs. To qualify as a state plan, the state agency must promulgate regulations that are equal to or more stringent than the federal OSHA program. Some of the safety regulations brought about by OSHA that affect the laboratory are
- requirement of personal protective equipment (PPE), primarily to prevent exposure to bloodborne pathogens;
- lockout/tagout-- securing energy sources in an "off" condition when performing repairs of maintenance;
- hazard communications that require developing and communicating information on hazards of chemical products used in the laboratory, such as material safety data sheets (MSDS); and
- a bloodborne pathogens standard designed to prevent both employees and patients from being exposed to bloodborne pathogens.