young female warehouse worker with long hair smiling

Employer Responsibilities & OSHA

The following list is a summary of the most important employer responsibilities related to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970:

  • Provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSH Act.
  • Examine workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable OSHA standards.
  • Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment.
  • Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
  • Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.
  • Provide medical examinations and training when required by OSHA standards.
  • Post, at a prominent location within the workplace, the OSHA poster (or the state-plan equivalent) informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Notify OSHA of all work-related fatalities within 8 hours, and of all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, or losses of an eye within 24 hours.
  • Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses. (Note: Employers with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain industries are exempt from this requirement.)
  • Provide employees, former employees and their representatives access to the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300).
  • Provide access to employee medical records and exposure records to employees or their authorized representatives.
  • Provide to the OSHA compliance officer the names of authorized employee representatives who may be asked to accompany the compliance officer during an inspection.
  • Not discriminate against employees who exercise their rights under the Act.
  • Post OSHA citations at or near the work area involved. Each citation must remain posted until the violation has been corrected, or for three working days, whichever is longer. Post-abatement verification documents or tags.
  • Correct cited violations by the deadline set in the OSHA citation and submit required abatement verification documentation.
young African American smiling working in the food industry at deli

Food Service Industry Safety

Restaurants and other eating and drinking businesses employ millions of people in the United States. The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides resources to help workers in the restaurant industry stay safe and healthy on the job.


OSHA’s general industry standards related to foodborne illness generally apply to persons engaged in a business affecting commerce who have employees, but does not include certain public employers (i.e., the federal government, state governments, or political subdivisions of a state).

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these states adopt standards that are identical to federal OSHA. However, some states have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

Food Service Employers’ Responsibilities Under OSHA

Key employer requirements include:

  • Furnishing to each of their employees a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to their employees;
  • Informing employees of the existence, location and availability of their medical and exposure records when they first begin employment and at least annually thereafter; and
  • Providing these records to employees or their designated representatives within 15 working days of a request.

Food Service Employees’ Rights Under OSHA

Key employee rights include:

  • Filing a complaint with OSHA if they believe that there are either violations of OSHA standards or serious workplace hazards;
  • Requesting information from the employer on safety and health hazards in the workplace, chemicals used in the workplace, tests the employer has done to measure chemical, noise and radiation levels, precautions the employer should take and procedures to be followed if employees are involved in an incident or are exposed to hazardous chemicals or other toxic substances;
  • Reviewing the Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300) at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner or have an authorized representative do so.
    • Note: There are two classes of employers that are partially exempt from routinely keeping injury and illness records. First, employers with 10 or fewer employees at all times during the previous calendar year are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records. OSHA’s revised recordkeeping regulation maintains this exemption. Additionally, establishments in certain low-hazard industries are also partially exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records.
  • Accessing relevant exposure and medical records; and
  • Requesting copies of appropriate standards, rules, regulations and requirements that the employer should have available at the workplace.

Food Service Safety Resources

The following resources describe common hazards and potential safety solutions for workers and employers in the food service industry:

Restaurant Youth Worker Safety Tools

State Law Resources

The following links provide food safety standards and/or licensing requirements by state: