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November 3, 2008    DOL Home > Compliance Assistance > By Topic > Safety and Health   

Safety and Health in the Workplace

 Frequently Asked Questions


Three U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) agencies have responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the laws enacted to protect the safety and health of workers in America.

The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act is administered by DOL's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Safety and health conditions in most private industries are regulated by OSHA or an OSHA-approved state plan. Nearly every employee in the nation comes under OSHA's jurisdiction with some exceptions such as miners, some transportation workers, many public employees, and the self-employed. In addition to the requirements to comply with the regulations and safety and health standards contained in the OSH Act, employers subject to the Act have a general duty to provide work and a workplace free from recognized, serious hazards.

DOL's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has responsibility for administration and enforcement of the Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which protects the safety and health of workers employed in the nation's mines. The Act applies to all mining and mineral processing operations in the United States, regardless of size, number of employees, or method of extraction.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) contains rules concerning the employment of young workers, those under the age of 18, and is administered and enforced by the DOL's Employment Standards Administration's Wage and Hour Division. Intended to protect the health and well-being of youth in America, the FLSA contains minimum age restrictions for employment, restrictions on the times of day youth may work, and the jobs they may perform.

DOL also has a public outreach initiative called Working Partners for an Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace that assists employers to develop drug-free workplace programs. Although not required under any DOL laws or regulations, such programs are natural compliments to other initiatives that help ensure safe and healthy workplaces and add value to America's businesses and communities.

For help in determining which safety and health standards apply to particular employment situations select from the subtopics above.

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