OSHA Laws and Standards
The OSH Act includes a catch-all clause, the General Duty Clause, which permits OSHA to cite employers for not addressing recognized workplace hazards, even if there is not a specific OSHA standard.
If OSHA chooses to pursue a general duty violation, OSHA must prove that the hazard was recognized, the employer failed to address a workplace hazard that employees were exposed to, there was a feasible and useful method of addressing the hazard and it was causing or likely to cause death or a serious injury.
Some of the workplace hazards addressed by OSHA’s regulations include occupational noise exposure, electrical safety , exposure to chemicals and hazardous substances, various work equipment, fire safety , falls from heights, and confined spaces .
When protecting workers, employers must ensure they provide appropriate personal protective equipment. Employers must also ensure that adequate medical and first aid services are available in case of an injury or illness.
OSHA also sets standards for the recordkeeping and reporting of workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
Importance of implementing an active regulatory watch on OSHA’s standards
OSHA believes that many of its regulations, such as its permissible exposure limits are outdated and has begun to evaluate the best way to revise the permissible exposure limits.
Employers should be aware of any regulatory changes as they develop so that they can anticipate and address any new health and safety requirements.
OSHA also releases periodic interpretation letters which provide guidance on how OSHA will enforce its regulations. Although these letters cannot create new obligations, the clarification OSHA provides is helpful to ensure you are fully compliant with OSHA standards.