Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The OSHA logo

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed in 1971 to ensure employee safety and health and create a better working environment. Since its inception, occupational related illness and injury rates have dropped nearly 60%, while the number of U.S. workers has doubled.1 OSHA utilizes a variety of proven intervention strategies like standards enforcement, guidance, training and cooperation programs in order to ensure a safe workplace.

OSHA and Food Service Workers
Whistleblower Protection

OSHA includes provisions that protect employees from termination, reduced pay or other discriminatory practices when that employee informs regulatory agencies of OSHA standards violations being committed at their place of employment.

The United States food service industry is the largest American business sector and employs nearly 13.1 million people.2 With so many people involved in the industry, there is a high probability of injury in the workplace. Recognizing and preventing possible injuries is crucial to operating a safe, successful commercial kitchen. OSHA recognizes specific areas of the restaurant that hold the highest risk for harming employees.



OSHA Water Standards for Preventing Foodborne Illnesses

Food quality and processes used to prevent foodborne disease are primarily regulated by the FDA, CDC and local health authorities, but OSHA has water standards related to the prevention of foodborne illness.

  • Provide potable water. Potable water must be provided for drinking, washing, cooking, food washing and food preparation.
  • Label non-potable water outlets. All commercial operators must label outlets of non-potable water to warn employees against using that water.
  • Prevent backflow. All outlets of non-potable or waste water must be constructed in a manner to prevent backflow into a potable water system.
Penalties for Non-Compliance

OSHA standards are put in place to protect employees from serious harm. Any employer that does not follow the standards can be charged up to $7,000 for serious violations.3 Penalties for repeated violations can reach up to $70,000.

1 U.S. Department of Labor, “OSHA Facts – August 2008,” http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/oshafacts.html (accessed October 26, 2008).
2 National Restaurant Association, “Restaurant Industry – Facts at a Glance,” http://www.restaurant.org/research/ind_glance.cfm (accessed October 26, 2008).
3 Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions,” http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/osha-faq.html#Enforcement (accessed November 10, 2008).