OSHA Compliance at Work

What is OSHA compliance all about, what are the most common OSHA violations, and how to become compliant with OSHA requirements

What is OSHA Compliance?

OSHA compliance means following all applicable OSHA regulations for employers, employees, and businesses. Compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) requirements helps facilitate safety and security in the workplace as well as promote a working environment that is conducive to productivity and efficiency.

OSHA compliance at work

OSHA compliance at work

Is Compliance with OSHA Required by Law?

The short answer is yes, compliance with OSHA is required by law and is applicable to all 50 states and all US jurisdictions. Considering the broad coverage of OSHA across US territories, almost all organizations, employers, and employees are required to comply with OSHA requirements.

Some exemptions are given for certain entities and for employers who have 10 or fewer employees for an entire calendar year. The following are also exempted according to OSHA:

  • those who are self-employed;
  • immediate family members of farm employers; and
  • workplace hazards regulated by another federal agency such as the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the US Department of Energy, and the US Coast Guard.

Federal OSHA also does not cover employees of state and local government agencies, but they are still protected under existing OSHA-approved programs on the state level.

Advantages of OSHA Compliance

Not only will adherence to OSHA requirements promote safety at work, but it will also help promote efficiency. Studies have shown that compliance with workplace health and safety regulations optimizes business productivity for the following reasons:

  • decreased likelihood of employee absence due to sickness;
  • minimizes expenditure on healthcare; and
  • helps keep employees capable of working in the long term.

On the flip side, some of the consequences of non-compliance with OSHA requirements are penalties per violation that can amount to thousands of dollars, legal action, and a damaged reputation.

Benefits of OSHA Requirements Compliance

Moving beyond mere regulatory compliance, adherence to OSHA standards protects workers from deadly safety hazards and health risks at work. Here are 5 benefits of complying with OSHA requirements:

1. Develop an Effective Health and Safety Policy

Senior management should create a health and safety policy with clear objectives, indicating the basic health and safety philosophy of the organization. Environmental, health, and safety managers should update these guidelines when applicable OSHA standards change and integrate them with lessons learned from past incidents, new insights from recent training sessions, and more efficient SOPs.

2. Enable Frontline Workers to Respond Proactively

OSHA standards can be easily met when organizations empower frontline workers to mitigate health and safety risks at the onset. Before commencing work, site supervisors should regularly conduct an OSHA toolbox talk for workers to be aware of job hazards, best practices, and preventive measures.

3. Maximize Use of Cost-Effective Digital Tools

Proper recordkeeping and documentation of health and safety programs are critical to substantiating compliance with OSHA standards. To easily comply with OSHA standards, EHS managers and frontline workers should take advantage of the world’s most powerful safety inspection software, SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor).

4. Celebrate Wins to Boost Motivation

EHS managers should recognize safe and on-time performance to encourage safe behavior in the workplace. Facilitate peer-to-peer observations, provide informal feedback, and engage in follow-up discussions to further support safe behavior among employees. Consistent hazard prevention, prompt incident reporting, proactive responses to safety issues, and appropriate solutions to recurrent problems should also be rewarded.

5. Stay Updated by Consulting the OSHA Website Regularly

Maintaining compliance with OSHA standards entails the commitment of the organization, its management, and all employees to prioritize health and safety. Visit OSHA’s FAQs to keep up with releases/revisions of OSHA standards.

The Most Common OSHA Violations

Employers and managers should watch out for these top 10 OSHA violations and take steps to avoid having their business get cited for any of them:

  1. Fall protection (construction)
  2. Hazard communication standard (general industry)
  3. Respiratory protection (general industry)
  4. Scaffolding (construction)
  5. Ladders (construction)
  6. Control of hazardous energy (general industry)
  7. Powered industrial trucks (general industry)
  8. Training requirements for fall protection
  9. Eye and face protection
  10. Machinery and machine guarding

What are the Four Categories of OSHA Standards?

OSHA standards are divided into 4 main groups:

1. General Industry

General industry has its set of health and safety standards that apply to the most diverse number of workers and worksites that do not fall under agriculture, construction, or maritime industries.

2. Agriculture

The agriculture industry involves harvesting crops and raising livestock that provide animal products such as meat, eggs, dairy, and wool. Considering the risks that accompany farm work, OSHA has provided health and safety standards for agricultural operations.

3. Maritime

OSHA standards for the maritime industry covers the work involved in the construction, repair, and scrapping of vessels, as well as the movement of cargo and other materials that involve the use of vessels.

4. Construction

One of the biggest industries in the US, construction is one of the industries with the most cited OSHA violations (fall protection, scaffolding, ladders) and as such, OSHA has provided resources to help make construction work safer.

How to Become OSHA Compliant?

Once you are aware of which OSHA category the business belongs to and which OSHA standards are applicable to the organization, managers and training officers can help with formulating OSHA compliance training for workers and implementing monitoring methods to reinforce safety.

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OSHA Compliance Training

Create and provide OSHA compliance training based on what’s required for your workplace. Make use of OSHA training courses that are already curated and made available for your employees. Encourage the completion of training courses by using Training on mobile, making training courses more accessible, easier to understand, and effective.

OSHA Compliance Inspections

After empowering employees with the proper training, monitor the health and safety of your workplace by using best practice OSHA compliance checklists that can help guide internal auditors on what to look out for. There are free OSHA compliance checklists that safety officers and managers can download and use in the workplace to not only encourage OSHA compliance but also promote worker health and safety.

To further increase workplace safety and be at par with existing standards, it is also an option to utilize employee GPS tracking tools. These tools enable employers and safety managers to view employees’ real-time location, especially the lone-working ones. Likewise, workers can immediately send alerts and notifications through the app as needed.

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SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) as a Tool for OSHA Compliance

Industry leaders use SafetyCulture to help their businesses comply with safety regulations and stay aligned with industry standards. As a monitoring tool for OSHA compliance, employers and managers can use the corresponding safety compliance checklists and templates with SafetyCulture to promote worker health and safety:

  • Fall Protection Inspection Checklist – use this collection of fall protection checklists to keep employees safe as they work from heights in construction and in other work sites
  • Hazard communication standard – take advantage of SafetyCulture’s reporting feature to immediately communicate hazards found in the workplace 
  • Respiratory protection – publicly available respiratory protection checklist to choose from and use for your workplace
  • Scaffolding – use this scaffold inspection checklist that uses visual aids to guide safety officers on what to check when inspecting the safety of scaffolds in construction and other sites
  • Ladders – take photos of issues found on ladders to give more context when reporting about ladders that are no longer in good working condition
  • Control of hazardous energy – check this collection of lockout-tagout templates to select which is the best fit for your business to control hazardous energy
  • Powered industrial trucks – use this general inspection checklist intended for powered industrial trucks
  • Training requirements for fall protection – use these checklists to supplement training materials intended for fall protection
  • Eye and face protection – here’s a variety of inspection templates to check the proper use of the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for eye and face protection
  • Machinery and machine guarding – use this collection of checklists you can use for the pre and post-operation inspection of machinery to ensure proper machine guarding protects employees from the risks of operating machinery

You can find more best practice checklists and templates related to OSHA among the thousands of free-to-download forms on our Public Library.

SafetyCulture Content Team
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SafetyCulture Content Team
The SafetyCulture content team is dedicated to providing high-quality, easy-to-understand information to help readers understand complex topics and improve workplace safety and quality. Our team of writers have extensive experience at producing articles for different fields such as safety, quality, health, and compliance.