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Who is covered by OSHA regulations?


OSHA was created by legislation known as the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The purpose of this legislative action is to protect American workers. OSHA creates minimum standards that must be met by employers to ensure the health and safety of workers. The Occupations Safety and Health Administration enforces the workplace safety standards that aim to accomplish this goal. Workers who believe that OSHA standards are not being met in their workplace may request a visit from an OSHA inspector.


OSHA covers both public and private sector employees and employers. All states, including Tennessee, have OSHA-approved state programs. The federal program is the standard by which all state programs are measured. State programs must be at least as effective as the Federal OSHA program. If an employee works for a state or local government, he or she will not be covered by the Federal OSHA. These employees must look to the OSHA-approved state program.

In the state of Tennessee, the program is administered by the Tennessee Occupational and Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA). States like Tennessee may impose higher fines and stricter penalties than federal OSHA. Injured workers who request an investigation will follow procedures that are similar to OSHA's, however the case will be heard by state review boards.

There are some employees that are not covered by OSHA at all, even at the state level. Individuals who are self-employed, for example, are not covered. Immediate family members of farm employers that do not employ outside employees also are not covered by OSHA. If the workplace hazards in the workplace are regulated by another Federal agency, OSHA will not apply to any workplace injuries that occur there.

Though OSHA tries to keep workers safe, the sad fact of the matter is that far too many continue to get hurt on the job. Those who do suffer harm while performing job duties may want to discuss their situation with an attorney who may be able to help them recover much needed workers' compensation.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety Administration, "Who OSHA Covers," accessed on Nov. 29, 2015

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