History of OHS Laws Essay Example

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:

History of OHS Laws 9

History of OHS Laws


Occupational health and safety (OHS) is an important issue in the health and social care workers. This is due to the safety in the working conditions that are dynamic. An occupational health and safety standard forms an important part since the health care sector is dynamic in terms of risks workers are exposed to due to changes in sector (Bigelow, Moore &Yassi, 2004). The role of international labor Organization (ILO) is to provide formulation to the labor policies. The OHS laws have been created over a period of time due to events which has affected the health of workers. This report will look into the Occupational Health and Safety laws history in relation to social and health of workers.

History of Occupational health and safety laws based on timeline from the inception to present is as shown below.

  1. The early history of Occupational Health and Safety Laws and significant historical events that helped to shape current laws

1869 founder of occupational medicine

Alice Hamilton is perceived as the founder of the occupational medicine. She was born in the New York City and became the director of the occupational disease commission which was founded in 1910 (Bigelow, Moore &Yassi, 2004). The commission focused mostly on the illnesses which were brought by lead. One of major achievement of the commission was passing of early worker compensation law in the Illinois State. Apart from passing of this law, she published industrial poisons in the United States in 1925 and industrial toxicology in 1934.

1907 creation of bureau of mining

In this year, at least 362 workers in the mining industry were killed in an explosion which occurred in two coal mines that were interconnected. This happened in Monongah which was the worst disaster in the history of mining in United States (Bigelow, Moore &Yassi, 2004). This led to the United States government creating a bureau of mining which was within the interior department to protect the miners’ health.

1911 formation of united society of casualty inspectors

In the year 1911, another incidence transformed the occupational health sector. A fire broke out in the triangle Waist Company factory which was situated in New York City. In this incident, 146 workers were killed. Being a workplace health hazard, it led to changes in the Occupational Health Safety. This led to formation of the United Society of Casualty Inspectors in New York City. The society name was later changed to Society of Safety Engineers in 1914 (Huff, 2007).

More changes come in the year 1913 when National Safety Council started working on health and safety issues. The labor department later issued its compendium of regulations in 1915The main concern of the council was based on traffic and industrial safety. The council work was recognized by the then president Dwight Eisenhower during the year 1953.

1935 fair labor act in US

National labor relations board was established in July 5, 1935. This was done by enactment of the National Labor Relations act. It took three years from the enactment of national labor act for the new enactment of the Fair Labor Act (Ore, 2002). In the same year, the United States president Franklin Roosevelt signed the social security act. The act created the unemployment offices funding which helped millions of workers. The act had provision for funding the state based funding to health programs.

1942 occupational and health association of nurses

In the year 1942, the first occupational and environmental health association was formed by nurses. The association consisted of 300 nurses who came from 16 states (Ore, 2002). This was the predecessor of American Association of Occupational Health nurses.

1956 Agriculture (safety, health and welfare provisions ct)

At this time, the law concerning Agriculture workers was passed in Britain. The act was known as Agriculture (Safety, Health and Welfare Provisions) act 1956. The act safeguarded the agricultural workers and their children who could come into contact with farm machinery (Huff, 2007). Other factors that the act protected included protection from excessive lifting and made sure that there were sanitary and washing facilities. Through this act, enforcement of the workers safety was made easier.

1957 Nuclear installations act

Another act that looked at the occupational health and safety was the nuclear installation act. This act established the nuclear installations inspectorate. Following the occurrence of Windscale nuclear site tragedy in the year 1957, the formation of the inspectorate of nuclear installations was done and it was put under the ministry of power (Huff, 2007). The nuclear inspectorate is responsible for UK safety in the nuclear power plant and stations.

2.0 Formation of major International and national Bodies

1971 formation of OSHA in the US

OSHA which is an acronym for Occupational Safety and Health Administration was established under occupational safety and health act in United States of America (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 2004). OSHA was formed in April 28 1971 with George Guenther as the first director. OSHA has been able to carry out important trainings and assistance in occupation health since its formation.

1975 Formation of Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

In the United Kingdom, health and safety executive was formed. The executive main duty was to over the requirements for the health and safety commission together with enforcing health and safety in the place of work. In the year 1979, a major disaster struck Golborne Colliery in Manchester (Huff, 2007). In the incident ten people died and one person was left seriously wounded. The investigation carried out showed that lack of proper ventilation was the main cause of fire. The SHE executives in the Mines Establishment (SMRE) looked into the incidence and recommended improved ventilation.

WHO (World Health Organization)

The world health organization was formed in 1948 following the end of world war two. The main focus was on health in international perspective. ILO has been working in close partnership with world health organization (WHO) in the matters of safety and health issues. In the year 1996, the WHO published the Global strategy for Occupational for All. This was followed by WHO European office publishing a declaration on workers’ health in 2006. Through these supportive publications, the WHO plays an important role in global health for workers (Woolfson, 2007).

On 31 July 1974, the Health and safety commission was formed with mandate to secure health, safety and the needs of people at work (Ore, 2002). The commission also had duty to safeguard the public against health risks and safety while in work situation.

3.0 Other Important Acts and regulations that has led to currents OHS status (1974-2008)

1974 Health and Safety act

The health and safety at work act was put in place in1974. This was the first time employees and employers were involved in the process of making laws of modern health and safety system. The act led to establishment of the Health and safety commission whose main mandate was to provide new regulations, information as well as advice (Ore, 2002). To enforce health and safety laws, the formation of health and safety executive was carried out. The executive duty was to be done together with local authorities.

Control of lead at work regulation 1980

The nature and degree of exposure to individuals working in the lead exposed conditions were to be assessed. This was done to determine the nature and the extent of exposure that was being experienced by the worker (Huff, 2007). These regulations ensured workers who were exposed to harmful conditions were having good working conditions with ventilation and washing and changing amenities. The regulations also made sure that there was monitoring and biological tests were being done.

1981 ILO C155 occupation health and safety convention

The international labor organization (ILO) is involved in giving recommendations together with guidance on national occupational safety and health (OHS) policies.

The ILO convention described as C 155 occupational health and safety convention was involved in setting the objectives as well as basic principles which were to be used for national policy. This convention was ratified by 50 countries (Huff, 2007).

1992 review of the safety and health regulations

In this year, the United Kingdom based Health and Safety commission undertook a task to review the safety and health regulations that were in place. The processes led to reforms which reduced the complexity that was in place in the OHS (Huff, 2007).

1999 ILO code of practice convention

A convention by ILO named code of practice 1998 was held (Huff, 2007). The main aim of the convention was to provide technical and ethical guidelines which were to be used for workers health surveillance.

2000 revitalizing health and safety strategy launched in UK

In this year, the revitalizing health and safety strategy was launched. The main aim was to help those at work to take care of them and improve the life quality in the area of work. The strategy used targets that were attainable and measurable to set goals (Huff, 2007).

2008 Health and Safety offences Act

In the year 2008, the health and safety (offences) act was put in place. The law provided punishments to those who broke it which included long jail terms and fines. In April 2011, the office of nuclear regulation was set in the Great Britain (Huff, 2007).

4.0 The current status of Australia Work Health and Safety Legislation

2012 Harmonization of Australia’s Work Health and Safety laws

During this year, national workplace health and safety commenced. This led to harmonization of nine primary federal, territory and state acts into one workplace safety act. Through the harmonization, all nonprofit entities (NFP) whose services took place in more than one state or territory were allowed to use uniform health and safety policy and procedures (Mills Oakley, 2012).The model work and safety laws that were established consisted of (WHS) work health and safety act. The model work and safety laws acted as the basis of harmonized laws in Australia.


The occupational and Health safety laws have been transformed in great way since the inception. At the moment, only about 15 percent of global workforce is able to access occupational health services (Eijkemans, 2004). Looking at workers especially in the health sector, they are more exposed to health risks related to their occupation. The important issue in improving the condition is providing good management of funds. The Occupational Health and safety laws are still being harmonized and looking at the history of these laws, it’s evident that transformation will continue to take place.


Bigelow, P., Moore D. & Yassi A. (2004). Assessing the health implications for healthcare workers of regulatory changes eliminating locally developed occupational exposure limits in favour of TLVs: an evidence-based bipartite approach. International Journal of

Occupational Environmental Health, 10:433-444.

Eijkemans, G. (2004). Occupational health services as a part of primary health care. Asian- Pacific newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety, 11:51-53

Huff, J. (2007). Industry influence on occupational and environmental public health.

International Journal of Occupational Environmental Health, 13:107-117.

Mills, O. (2012). Harmonisation of Australian Workplace Health and Safety Laws.

Retrieved Aug 18, 2013, from http://www.millsoakley.com.au/harmonisation-of- australian-workplace-health-and-safety-laws/

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2004). Guidelines for Preventing Workplace

Violence for Health Care & Social Service Workers. U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA.

Ore, T. (2002). Occupational Assault among Community Care Workers. Journal of Healthcare

Management, 18(1):72–89.

Woolfson, C. (2007). New European Community Strategy for health and safety: The elephant in

the room. International Journal of Occupational & Environmental Health, 13:342-355.