By Winmark Business Solutions
The heart of OSHA compliance is becoming aware of its published standards, which address specific hazards. The standards are divided into four major categories based on the type of work being performed:
- General industry — includes standards for: walking/working surfaces; exit routes, emergency action plans and fire prevention plans (means of egress); work platforms; ventilation; radiation; hazardous materials; personal protective equipment; sanitation; medical and first aid; fire protection; compressed gas/air equipment; material handling and storage; machinery and machine guarding; hand-held equipment; welding, cutting and brazing; electrical wiring and electronics; commercial diving; toxic and hazardous substances; and special industry standards.
- Construction — includes standards for: fire protection; signs, signals and barricades; personal protective and lifesaving equipment; material handling, storage, use and disposal; hand/power tools, welding and cutting; electrical; scaffolds; diving; toxic and hazardous substances; overhead protection; stairways and ladders; fall protection; cranes, derricks, hoists, elevators and conveyors; motor vehicles; excavations; concrete and masonry; steel erections; and demolition and blasting.
- Maritime — includes standards for: cargo handling and equipment; personal protection; terminal facilities; surface preparation and preservation; welding, cutting and heating; scaffolds and ladders; rigging equipment and gear; tools and equipment; ship machinery and piping systems; pressure vessels, drums and containers; electrical machinery; toxic and hazardous substances; gangways; and opening and closing hatches.
- Agriculture — includes standards for: rollover protective structures; guarding of farm field equipment, farmstead equipment and cotton gins; and sanitation and the use of cadmium.
General industry standards apply to any type of employment in any industry, including construction, shipyard employment, and agriculture, to the extent that particular standards for these other industries do not apply.
There is also a general duty under OSHA to maintain a safe workplace, which covers all situations for which there are no published standards. Thus, you aren’t off the hook merely because you complied with all the specific written standards that apply to you — you also have to be aware of safety hazards that come with new technology or unusual situations the government might not have thought of.
Complying with standards may require many different types of activities:
- installing physical safeguards or engineering controls (e.g., guardrails or fire extinguishers)
- meeting work practice requirements through employee training, company work rules, and supervision on the job
- monitoring for air contaminants
- providing employees with personal protective equipment
- conducting tests and inspections of equipment
- using safety devices and equipment
- determining which training, protection, and medical examinations are necessary for employees
- determining when hazard warnings are required
Employer duty. To perform all your duties under OSHA, you need to know about the following:
- The general duty clause makes it the employer’s duty to identify all potential safety hazards in the workplace.
- The general industry standards as discussed above apply to most workplaces.
- Our four-step process of compliance with general industry standards should make things much easier for you.
About the Author
Winmark Business Solutions (WBS) is a free Web site for small businesses and entrepreneurs containing over 6,000 pages of business-critical information and downloadable tools at www.WBSonline.com. WBS is a division of Winmark Corporation, a multi-brand franchisor with nearly 900 franchise locations in North America. With over 25 years working with small businesses, WBS draws upon years of experience to bring important small business articles, information, tools, forms, checklists, calculators and downloadable forms to the small business owner to help their business grow. WBS contains over 6000 pages of business-critical information all available at www.WBSonline.com.