This page contains links to standards, interpretations, compliance assistance, compliance directives, and various software advisors. It also contains a link to a page identifying which states operate state plans. States may, at their option, adopt and enforce their own standards. Federal OSHA requires that state plans be at least as comprehensive and thorough as Federal OSHA regulations, and states may go beyond the federal regulations or develop additional regulations as needed for industries in their states.
This is an especially useful page for benchmarking safety performance of one's company against one's industry. It also has the records of OSHA's inspection activity by employer, by industry, and by standard.
A key question we are sometimes asked is does the rescission of the OSHA Ergonomics Rule mean that OSHA lacks a basis to cite employers for ergonomic hazards in the workplace? In the absence of a specific standard for citing ergonomics hazards, OSHA may still cite employers for ergonomic hazards under the "General Duty" clause. In order to be able to cite employers for ergonomic hazards or any hazard under the Act, OSHA must show that the following four conditions are met (See this OSHRC Decision)
- A condition or activity in the employer's workplace presents a hazard to employees.
- The cited employer or the employer's industry recognizes the hazard.
- The hazard is causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
- Feasible means exist to eliminate or materially reduce the hazard.
How does OSHRC interpret these requirements for ergonomic hazards? Two key decisions which govern whether a “General Duty” citation for ergonomic hazards will be upheld are the Pepperidge Farms Decision and the Beverly Enterprises Decision. The key sticking point that OSHRC noted with respect to these decisions was how much mitigation of the ergonomic hazard was adequate to not be in violation. The decisions basically grant OSHA the authority to require an employer to engage in an "abatement process, the goal of which is to determine what action or combination of actions will eliminate or materially reduce the hazard, but in order to sustain the 5(a)(1) citation, OSHA must establish that the abatement process that the employer conducts is inadequate." OSHA has cited employers for ergonomic hazards, but the citations appear to be concentrated in a few specific offices.
You can click over the OSHA site and search for “General Duty” clause citations and enter “ergonomics” in the Query field. OSHA maintains a list of industry-specific and task-specific interventions. While OSHA says that deviation from these ergonomics guidelines will not necessarily be considered evidence of a violation, there was an increase in inspections and citations of nursing homes following the issuance of ergonomics guidelines for nursing homes. If OSHA has issued guidelines for your industry, it would be prudent to attempt to incorporate their suggested practices.
As a helpful aid for your ergonomics effort, you may wish to download this calculator for the NIOSH Lifting Equation Guidelines written by one of J.P. Purswell’s students at Colorado State University in Pueblo. It does require that you have installed some Visual Basic run time routines on your PC.
California, which has a state plan, has adopted a repetitive motion standard, also known as the Cal-OSHA ergonomics standard. This page contains both the text of the standard and a brief history on how it has been implemented and litigated.
Selected NIOSH Publications
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is charged with (among other things) performing or funding the research that is used by OSHA to support its standards.
The NIOSH review of the effectiveness of occupational safety and health training summarizes the literature on the effect of safety training on accidents rates and observed safety behaviors.
There is also a more detailed report: NIOSH review of backbelts.
Some Useful Transportation-Related Safety Links
The Snell Memorial Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research, education, testing and development of helmet safety standards.
This is a page with a list of the current Snell standards.
The US Naval Observatory's page has a useful little program for calculating sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, and moonsets for any US city or any latitude and longitude by date.
Resources that Deal with Chemical Characteristics, Hazards, and Permissible Exposure Levels
OSHA's page on materials relating to the Hazard Communication Standard. This standard was revised in 2012.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission Website, including online access to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database and the 1975 and 1977 studies on the anthropometry of children.
We have provided consultation (including expert testimony) on the listed issues for matters in litigation.
We have consulted with attorneys from all 50 states. References will happily be provided on request.
A hazard analysis uses one or more system safety techniques to identify hazards associated with the intended use and foreseeable misuse of a product. Accident databases are also consulted to identify possible injury modes. Once a list of hazards is developed changes in the product design or instructions and warnings to accompany the product are developed to address the identified hazards.
A product or process is evaluated both for the likelihood of injury and/or property damage as well as the severity of injury and/or property damage. Risk reduction techniques are then applied to reduce both the likelihood and severity of the risk as feasible.
We also assist clients in determining which if any, regulatory standards may be applicable to content and format of the warnings for their products. Where no specific government regulation for a warning for a particular product exists, beginning with a hazard analysis, we assist clients to identify appropriate content, format, size and placement of the warning messages based upon the empirical literature on warnings effectiveness as well as consensus standards. Consultations on warnings development and review range from briefing the client on the necessary elements of a warning to actually producing “camera-ready” warnings for a product. We have also designed and conducted tests of the warnings with representative users who are asked to use the product.
Consultations on user manuals are provided to improve the readability, organization, and completeness with particular focus on the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the anticipated user. Manuals are also reviewed to ensure that appropriate safety instructions and warnings are included. As with the development of on-product warnings discussed above, we can provide “camera-ready” files for manuals to clients.
Safety Data Sheets are required by OSHA for hazardous chemicals to which workers may be exposed. We have assisted manufacturers and importers of chemicals to develop Safety Data Sheets that comply with both OSHA and ANSI requirements for the ordering and content of these sheets. As of 2012, OSHA and ANSI no longer refer to this information as “Material Safety Data Sheets” (MSDSs) but simply as “Safety Data Sheets”. As of 2010, ANSI merged its standards for Safety Data Sheets and (on-product) Precautionary Labeling into one unified standard.
Consultations with employers on the development of OSHA-mandated safety training as well as site and application specific training to deal with specific hazards are provided. Guidance is also provided on the benchmarking of a particular company’s safety performance against its industry’s safety performance.
Consultations on OSHA compliance issues are provided. We have advised clients on the requirements of General Industry and Construction standards and assisted clients in responding to OSHA citations. Based on our knowledge of OSHA standards, compliance directives, and interpretations as well as the hearing record for the standard contained in the preambles to the standard, we have clarified the requirements of OSHA regulations for clients.We have also advised clients on what they may reasonably expect from an OSHA inspection, including likely areas of particular interest given the client’s industry and injury history. We have also provided guidance regarding the duties of various entities on multi-employer worksites as well as OSHA’s citation practices of ergonomic and heat stress hazards under the “General Duty” clause.
2035 Mulligan Dr., Colorado Springs, Co 80920
Phone: (719) 592-1773 • Fax: (719) 265-6905
Dr Jerry Purswell: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. J.P. Purswell: email@example.com