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

OSHA compliance at work

Published 28 Apr 2022

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 also help promote efficiency. Studies have shown that compliance with workplace health and safety regulations optimizes the business for productivity because of 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.

Consequences of Non-compliance

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

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?

The first step to avoid getting cited for any OSHA violation is to be aware of which OSHA standards are applicable to your business and employees. OSHA standards are divided into 4 main groups:

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.


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.


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.


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.

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 mobile training tools like EdApp that help make training courses easier to understand and more 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.

iAuditor as a Tool for OSHA Compliance

Industry leaders use iAuditor by 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 iAuditor 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 iAuditor’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 staff writer

SafetyCulture staff writer

Erick Brent Francisco

Erick Brent Francisco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. As a content specialist, he is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. His experience in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail helps enrich the quality of information in his articles.

Erick Brent Francisco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. As a content specialist, he is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. His experience in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail helps enrich the quality of information in his articles.