Where do OSHA standards appear? The answer should be in every workplace in which there are recognized and possible hazards – which is every workplace! From grocery stores and schools to construction sites and oil rigs, safety and health are the top priorities. That said, there are some industries that are inherently more dangerous than others, such as construction and heavy manufacturing. It is essential that every employee receive proper training to mitigate or eliminate these risks.
OSHA standards should be much more than words on a poster or a one-time training that goes in one ear and out the other. Knowing how and where to access guidelines is critical, as is knowing where to turn for help when you have questions or need assistance.
What Is OSHA?
Let’s back up a moment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established as part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. This law is designed to ensure that employees have safe and healthful work environments. OSHA sets workplace safety and health standards, enforces those standards, and provides information, training, and assistance to both employees and employers.
Under the law, employers have to comply with applicable OSHA standards, as well as the General Duty Clause; this states that they must keep their workplace free of “serious recognized hazards.”
Where Do OSHA Standards Appear?
Now, where do OSHA standards appear? They are published in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The most common rules are those falling under the category of “general industry.” This applies to most workplaces in the US. There are, however, other sets of rules contained in the CFR that relate to specific industries. These are shipyards, construction, and agriculture.
General industry standards are contained in Part 1910 of the CFR; shipyard rules are contained in Part 1915, construction in part 1926, and agriculture in Part 1928. It’s not necessarily as critical to know the exact part as it is to understand how to access the standards and rules that apply to your workplace. Again, employers are responsible for maintaining a healthy and safe workplace and for providing proper education, including hazard awareness training.
If a business or organization is not sure which standards apply to them specifically, they should contact OSHA for guidance. This, after all, is part of OSHA’s mandate, to provide assistance to employers. There is no excuse for not knowing when you can reach out for help.
On a more practical, immediate level, OSHA standards are available easily online via the OSHA website. You can access the general industry standards, as well as rules for specific industries that we have mentioned.
Complying with OSHA Standards
Failure to comply with OSHA standards can cost you. Violations and repeated failure to comply can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even if employers can absorb enormous fines, there is also the matter of damage to their reputation. This can be very difficult to overcome. Worst case, though, it means an employee was hurt or killed because they did not follow OSHA rules and protocols. This is unconscionable. Yes, accidents happen. But it is our job to ensure that we take every measure possible to ensure workplaces are as safe as possible – and that our people are as educated and prepared as possible.
Employers can access assistance in a variety of ways, including:
Onsite Consultation. OSHA provides free consultation for small businesses (i.e. those with fewer than 250 employees at a site or no more than 500 nationwide in total). They provide compliance assistance that will result in recommendations and strategies for improvement – not fines and penalties.
- Compliance Assistance. Employers can reach out to specialists in their area for information about OSHA standards and resources to ensure that they are in compliance.
- OSHA Training Institute Education Centers. These nonprofit organizations are authorized by OSAH to provide occupational health and safety training.
- Educational Materials. You can find a rich variety of tools and materials online, including videos, articles, and access to expert advisors.
- QuickTakes. This is the OSHA newsletter. It will keep you up to date on standards, rules, training opportunities, and more.
- OSHA. You can always contact your nearest OSHA office for assistance and guidance.
And we can help, too! Not only do we provide the most qualified (and OSHA-trained) candidates for your business, we deliver authorized and comprehensive OSHA training for your team. Our online courses are convenient and flexible, as well as participatory and interactive. It feels like a one-on-one session but with the freedom to learn where and when is most accessible for employees, management-level leaders, etc.
OSHA standards are a critical component in creating and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. It can help you avoid litigation, avoid unnecessary costs, and, most importantly, protect your people and your company. Learn more on our other pages.