Federal OSHA: An Overview
UpKeep’s OSHA series is a collection of easy-to-digest resources and compliance checklists based on Federal and State OSHA Plans .
For those in the Food and Beverage Manufacturing Industry looking for additional resources, check out our SQF Audit Food Safety Checklists here.
- General Overview of Federal OSHA
- How To Prepare for an OSHA Inspection
- Common OSHA Safety Violations
- OSHA Inspection Info and Checklists To Prepare Your Facility
- Examples of Completed OSHA Audits
A General Overview of Federal OSHA
OSHA is the main governing body in the US that is in charge of regulating, monitoring, and enforcing occupational health and safety standards in the workplace.
Who is Federal OSHA for?
The Federal OSHA standards apply to two categories of employees: 1) Private sector employees in states where the OSHA-approved state plan only covers state/local government workers and 2) Private sector employees in states that do not have an OSHA State plan. These states include:
Almost every business in the states listed will need to consider the OSHA standards and regulations that are applicable to their industry. In large facilities, ensuring compliance may be driven by a Compliance Manager or EHS Manager. In smaller facilities, or one where there is no Compliance or EHS Manager, this information will be important to a Facility Manager, HR Representative, or other designated personnel.
While it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe workplace for their employees, employees also need to be aware of these standards! Federal OSHA requires all covered private sector employers display an OSHA Workplace Poster in an obvious area within the workplace where all employees can easily see it. To download one for your workplace, go here.
OSHA standards cover all areas of employee occupational health and safety. There are also specific standards and guidelines for certain higher-risk industries and workplaces. For those in general industry the following standards are included:
- Hazard Communication Standard
- Emergency Action Plan Standard
- Fire Safety
- Exit Routes
- Walking/Working Surfaces
- Medical and First Aid
Additional standards that may apply depending on workplace:
- Machine Guarding
- Electrical Hazards
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Confined Spaces
- Blood or Bodily Fluids
- Powered Industrial Trucks
This list is not comprehensive, but can be a good place to start! It is up to date as of May 2020. For additional resources and more in depth analysis, visit Federal OSHA Laws and Regulations.
How do I prepare for a Federal OSHA Inspection?
Specific preparation tips for an OSHA inspection will vary based on whether the inspection is regularly scheduled, or the a result of an employee request, incident, referral, etc. A few general questions to keep in mind that will make the process as seamless as possible, include:
How can I be ‘Inspection Ready’ at all times?
- Avoid using paper and pencil for any documentation. Technology is your friend here!
- Move to a digital system to prevent lost records. This also makes the inspector’s life easier and allows them to more easily refer back and review prior work.
- Conduct your own internal compliance inspections on a consistent basis; ensure SOPs and protocols are clearly posted and fully understood.
- Train staff to do hazard inspections of your operations and document the findings. If possible, have staff in a different department conduct these inspections.
How often does an OSHA inspection occur?
The frequency of an OSHA inspection is dependent on several factors, but generally, OSHA focuses its time, energy, and inspection resources on the most dangerous workplaces in the following order of priority:
- Imminent Danger Situations
- Severe Injuries and Illnesses
- Worker Complaints
- Targeted Inspections
- Follow-Up Inspections
Top 10 OSHA Safety Violations of 2019
As cited by Patrick Kapust, Deputy Director of OSHA, these are the most common safety violations OSHA encountered conducting inspections during 2019. The numbers in parentheses reference the particular section standard information can be found!
- Fall Protection — General Requirements (1926.50)
- Hazard Communication (1910.1200)
- Scaffolding (1926.451)
- Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)
- Respiratory Protection (1910.134)
- Ladders (1926.1053)
- Powered Industrial Tucks (1910.178)
- Fall Protection — Training Requirements (1926.503)
- Machine Guarding (1910.212)
- Eye and Face Protection (1926.102)
What to do if you’ve been cited following an inspection?
- Some violations are minor and can be addressed with a prompt remediation.
- Follow up with your inspector on corrective action plans shortly after your inspection and work closely with your in-house team to ensure follow through with that plan.
- Immediately share any requested documents with your inspector following the inspection.
Conducting internal inspections of your facility helps create a safe workplace for employees by highlighting issues and allowing them to be addressed before something major happens. This checklist is based on Federal OSHA standards and is broken down by area. Within the Sheet, use Control + F to find the checklist relevant to the area you are focused on.
An inspection from OSHA can be intimidating and nerve-wracking. This checklist demystifies the structure and process and is a great resource to be used on the day of the inspection to keep yourself organized. It provides tasks to be done at each point along the way and is based on the structure of an OSHA inspection.
Examples of Completed Federal OSHA Audits
- OSHA Inspection Report – Chemical Safety Protocols at the Pantex Plant
- OSHA Workplace Safety Diagnostic Audit
- Mock OSHA Inspection Report and Safety Management Survey Report
Attribution: The resources presented here were sourced from OSHA. For additional reading, tools and context please visit them here.
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