OSHA was established by the Nixon administration in 1970 through the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act). This law gave OSHA two years to establish industry safety standards based on existing consensus standards published by organizations such as ANSI and the NFPA. The result was 29 CFR 1910, the OSHA standards that provide the safety and health regulations that apply to general industry.
Part 1910 – Occupational Safety and Health Standards - Application Section five of 29 CFR 1910 defines who is subject to these standards. Effectively, the OSHA 1910 safety and health regulations apply to nearly all employers in the United States and its territories. The notable exceptions are federal agencies and small farms. Although OSHA may issue citations to Federal agencies, they may not impose penalties on them; OSHA’s regulations do not generally apply to small farms with fewer than 10 total employees over the prior 12-month period, such as small family farms. In addition to OSHA 1910, there are other OSHA standards that provide regulations for specific industries. These are:
- 1915 – Shipyards and shipbreaking
- 1917 – Maritime terminals
- 1926 – Construction, demolition, and major renovations
- 1928 – Agriculture
Part 1910 – Occupational Safety and Health Standards – What Is Covered
OSHA 1910 is divided into 20 subparts:
- A - General
- B - Adoption and Extension of Established Federal Standards
- D - Walking and Working Surfaces
- E - Exit Routes and Emergency Planning
- F - Powered Platforms, Manlifts, and Vehicle-Mounted Work Platforms
- G - Occupational Health and Environmental Control
- H - Hazardous Materials
- I - Personal Protective Equipment
- J - General Environmental Controls
- K - Medical and First Aid
- L - Fire Protection
- M - Compressed Gas and Compressed Air Equipment
- N - Materials Handling and Storage
- O - Machinery and Machine Guarding
- P - Hand and Portable Powered Tools and Other Hand-Held Equipment
- Q - Welding, Cutting, and Brazing
- R - Special Industries (Pulp and paper; textiles; bakery equipment; laundries; sawmills; logging; telecommunications; power generation, transmission, and distribution; and grain handling facilities)
- S - Electrical
- T - Commercial Diving Operations
- Z - Toxic and Hazardous Substances
Part 1910 – Occupational Safety and Health Standards - Enforcement
The most significant way in which OSHA enforces the rules of Part 1910 is by workplace inspections. Of course, they can’t inspect every workplace every day; instead, OSHA selects workplaces to be inspected based on several factors. Their goal is to prevent injuries, so they prioritize those workplaces where the most serious injuries are most likely to occur.
One of OSHA's programs is called Site-Specific Targeting. It uses a facility’s annual rate of injuries and illnesses to identify which facilities should be inspected. These rates are measured in two ways: the number of worker Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART), and the number of worker Days Away From Work due to Illness or Injury (DAFWII). (Both of these rates are part of mandatory reporting.) The criteria for 2014 were:
- Manufacturing establishments with a DART rate of 7.0 or above, or with a DAFWII rate of 5.0 or above.
- Non-manufacturing establishments with a DART rate of 15.0 or above, or with a DAFWII rate of 14.0 or above.
Many OSHA inspections are made in response to a workplace accident. All employers covered by OSHA 1910 must report work-related accidents within eight hours of the accident, if the accident:
- resulted in the death of an employee, or
- resulted in the in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees.
In general, OSHA uses the following hierarchy of criteria to set the overall inspection priorities for enforcing the Part 1910 Occupational Safety and Health standards:
- Imminent Danger – when OSHA becomes aware of a situation in which there is a hazard that could cause death or serious harm, they will give that situation top priority. Hazards do not need to be reported to OSHA to trigger an inspection. In some cases, an OSHA inspector noticed a serious hazard while driving past a workplace, and that workplace then became a top priority for an inspection.
- An occurrence of a fatality or hospitalization of three or more workers – as mentioned above, these must be reported to OSHA, and they will trigger an inspection.
- Complaints – when OSHA receives a complaint from an employee, union representative, the media, or other knowledgeable source, they will give a high priority to investigating those complaints.
- Follow-Up – OSHA will return to workplaces that were previously inspected. Some of the larger OSHA fines are for repeat violations of the 1910 Occupational Safety and Health Standards.
Planned Investigations / Programmed Investigations – these are the ordinary inspections that target high hazard industries and workplaces. The Site Specific Targeting program mentioned above fits into this category.
Part 1910 – Occupational Safety and Health Standards – Inspections
What happens during an OSHA inspection? For those inspections that are not associated with an accident, OSHA inspectors will follow these steps:
- Research – Prior to beginning the inspection, the OSHA compliance officer will research the inspection history of the workplace, and become familiar with the processes and operations taking place in that specific workplace. They will also research the OSHA standards that are most likely to apply to that workplace.
- Arrival – When an OSHA inspector arrives, they will present their identification, which includes an OSHA photo ID and a serial number. There have been instances of people impersonating an OSHA inspector, so verifying the identity of the OSHA inspector is a good idea.
- Opening Conference – The OSHA compliance office will meet with representatives of the workplace to give the reason for the inspection and its scope. The employer may have a representative accompany the compliance officer during the inspection. A representative for the employees also has the right to accompany the compliance officer.
- The Inspection – The inspection involves walking through the areas of the workplace that the compliance officer stated would be inspected. In addition, the compliance officer may look at workplace injury and illness records.
- Exit Conference – When the inspection is complete, the compliance officer will meet with the employer and representatives to discuss what was found, and to present any options for future action. After the inspection, OSHA has six months in which to issue any citations, establish deadlines for correcting hazards, and propose penalties.
Part 1910 – Occupational Safety and Health Standards – Visual Communication
Visual communication is most commonly done using labels and signs. Visual communication is critical, as it is the most effective and reliable means of communicating important safety information. A number of OSHA 1910 standards include specific requirements for labels and signs. However, you can assume that any and every hazard must be marked with an appropriate danger, warning, caution, or notice sign. Even if there is no specific regulation covering the situation, it will be covered by the 1910 General Duty Clause. Being OSHA compliant involves more than just posting safety signs and forgetting them. Should those safety signs fail through of fading, peeling, abrasion, or exposure to a harsh environment, when an OSHA inspector comes through it will be just as though those required safety signs didn't exist. That's why many major corporations worldwide are using DuraLabel custom label printers and tough-tested supplies. With DuraLabel, you have assurance that your safety signs and labels will be long-lasting. Call 888.326.9244 today to learn about DuraLabel's unique warranties. And be sure to ask about the special DuraLabel kits.