Employers are responsible for keeping up to date with the standards relevant to them and making sure all employees are likewise up to date with procedures as well as trained on proper safety equipment relevant to their duties. Here are a number of sources that can help you find the latest regulatory information.
Staying up to date with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and regulations can not only ensure the safety of your company and your employees, it can save you from fines and the possibility of being shut down.
As just one example, OSHA recently had to issue two citations to an Oklahoma-based cellphone tower company for multiple safety violations that caused the death of two employees and a volunteer firefighter after a cell tower collapsed during a routine maintenance. The citations were issued after an OSHA investigation found that important key structural members were removed and not properly braced, which caused the structure to be too weak to safely support the added weight of the workers, their safety gear, as well as tools and supplies to complete their tasks.
A $7,000 fine was issued for each violation – the maximum amount allowed by law for serious OSHA violations.
OSHA is responsible for promoting and carrying out standards that are legally enforced by both state and federal agencies. The requirements, introduced through outreach, education, training, and assistance, may apply to means, methods, or practices that are both necessary and reasonable to meet to ensure healthful working conditions.
Employers are responsible for keeping up to date with the standards relevant to them and making sure all employees are likewise up to date with procedures as well as trained on proper safety equipment relevant to their duties.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, states and territories can adopt occupational safety and health plans that are approved federally. State job safety and health plans that meet minimum OSHA requirements become OSHA-approved state plans and receive partial funding by the federal government.
These states and territories are also required to cover employees in the public sector, which are not covered federally by OSHA. Currently, 22 states and territories have adopted their own occupational safety and health plans. New York, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, and the Virgin Islands cover employees in the public sector only.
Although OSHA sends out compliance officers across the United States to inspect 7 million work sites and enforce regulations annually, it cannot be everywhere. While employees report workplace safety issues and accidents, violations can be reported by authorized individuals for an employee. They include attorneys, social workers, members of the clergy, spouses, family members, recognized labor organization representatives, and organizations and nonprofit groups acting on complaints and injuries sustained by employees.
How to Obtain a Copy of OSHA Standards
OSHA regulations and standards can be categorized into General Industry, Construction, Agriculture, and Maritime.
One of the best resources for information on OSHA standards is the Federal Register. The Federal Register publishes the OSHA standards when they are adopted, as well as all corrections, insertions, deletions, and amendments. You can sign up for annual subscriptions to the register through the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), in Washington, D.C. You can also find a copy at your local library.
Through your local library and the Government Printing Office, you can find copies of the annual updates for current regulations and standards through the Code of Federal Regulations, or CFR. These OSHA regulations can be found in Title 29 of the CFR, Part 1900-1999.
You may also sign up for the OSHA Regulations, Documents and Technical Information CD-ROM. This CD-ROM was developed to help the public stay current with OSHA standards. On this CD-ROM, you will find all current regulations and standards, technical information from the OSHA Computerized Information System, or OCIS, and selected documents. The OSHA disc was created as a way to fill the need for quicker access to current regulations and other information.
The CD-ROM contains some of the following information:
- OSHA Regulations (Standards)
- OSH Act
- OSHA Technical Manual
- Standards Interpretations
- Federal Register Index
- Text and Preamble of Recent OSHA Standards
- Fact Sheets
- Field Operations Manual
- Chemical Sampling Information
- Blood Lead Laboratories
- Consultants (Expert Witness)
- Library Catalog
You can find a copy of the OSHA CD-ROM through the Superintendent of Documents. The CD-ROM cannot be obtained directly from OSHA or from the Department of Labor. Prices on annual subscriptions and quarterly updates are provided by the Government Printing Office.
As states have their own standards and regulations, you can contact your state for current information. To find out more information on OSHA and current standards, you can visit the federal site at www.osha.gov.
Photo credit: adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
William Chao is marketing manager for SafetyCompany, a distributor of safety and personal protection equipment based in City of Industry, Calif.