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Top 10 Most Frequently Penalized OSHA Standards for 2019

Eye and Face Protection

Regulation 29 CFR 1926.102

Enforcement from October 2018-September 2019

Total citations: 1,698

Total inspections: 1,691

Total proposed penalties: $4,372,282

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking–Number 10

Industries most often violating eye and face protection requirements:

Specialty Trade Contractors $4,099,758

Construction of Buildings $216,923

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $12,472

Administrative and Support Services $12,155

Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction $12,125

Waste Management and Remediation Services $6,203

Truck Transportation $6,251

Wood Product Manufacturing $2,500

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing $2,046

Telecommunications $998

Thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries that could have been prevented with the proper selection and use of eye and face protection.


Each day, approximately 2,000 U.S. workers sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. About one third of the injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments, and more than 100 of these injuries result in one or more days away from work. OSHA requires employers to ensure the safety of all employees in the work environment. Eye and face protection must be provided, whenever necessary, to protect against chemical, environmental, radiological or mechanical irritants and hazards.

How do eye injuries happen to workers?

Striking or scraping: The majority of eye injuries result from small particles or objects striking or scraping the eye, such as dust, cement chips, metal slivers and wood chips. These materials are often ejected by tools; are windblown; or fall from above a worker. Large objects may also strike the eye or face, or a worker may run into an object—causing blunt-force trauma to the eyeball or eye socket.

Penetration: Objects like nails, staples, or slivers of wood or metal can go through the eyeball and result in a permanent loss of vision.

Chemical and thermal burns: Industrial chemicals or cleaning products are common causes of chemical burns to one or both eyes. Thermal burns to the eye also occur, often among welders. These burns routinely damage workers’ eyes and surrounding tissue.

How do workers acquire eye diseases?

Eye diseases are often transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye as a result of direct exposure to things like blood splashes; droplets from coughing or sneezing; or from touching the eyes with a contaminated finger or object. Eye diseases can result in minor reddening or soreness of the eye or in a life-threatening disease, such as HIV, hepatitis B virus or avian influenza. [Editor’s note: COVID-19 is, of course, now top-of-mind for all industrial hygienists and safety professionals.]

What can workers do to prevent eye injury and disease?

Wear personal protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses or full-face respirators.

The eye protection chosen for specific work situations depends upon the nature and extent of the hazard; the circumstances of exposure; other protective equipment used; and personal vision needs. Eye protection should be fit to an individual or adjustable to provide appropriate coverage. It should be comfortable and allow for sufficient peripheral vision.

What can employers do to prevent worker eye injury and disease?

Employers can ensure engineering controls are used to reduce eye injuries and to protect against ocular infection exposures. Employers can also conduct a hazard assessment to determine the appropriate type of protective eyewear appropriate for a given task.

Infection Control Q & A

Infectious diseases can be transmitted through various mechanisms, among which are infections that can be introduced through the mucous membranes of the eye (conjunctiva).

What types of eye protection should be worn?

The eye protection chosen for specific work situations depends upon the circumstances of exposure, other PPE used and personal vision needs. There is wide variety in the types of protective eyewear, and appropriate selection should be based on a number of factors—the most important of which is the nature and extent of the hazard.

Eye protection must be comfortable and allow for sufficient peripheral vision and must be adjustable to ensure a secure fit. It may be necessary to provide several different types, styles and sizes. Selection of protective eyewear appropriate for a given task should be made from an evaluation of each activity, including regulatory requirements, when applicable. These hazard assessments require a clear understanding of the work tasks, including knowledge of the potential routes of exposure and the opportunities for exposure in the task assessed (nature and extent of worker contact). Exposure incident reports should be reviewed to identify those incidents (whether or not infection occurred) that could have been prevented by the proper use of protective eyewear.

How should potentially contaminated eye protection be removed?

Eye protection should be removed by handling only the portion of this equipment that secures the device to the head (i.e., plastic temples, elasticized band, ties), as this is considered relatively “clean.” The front and sides of the device (i.e., goggles, face shield) should not be touched, as these are the surfaces most likely to become contaminated by sprays, splashes or droplets during patient care. Non-disposable eye protection should be placed in a designated receptacle for subsequent cleaning and disinfection. The sequence of PPE removal should follow a defined regimen that should be developed by infection-control staff and take into consideration the need to remove other PPE. (See donning and removing PPE).

Is it safe for others to reuse my eye protection?

Safety eyewear is generally not disposable and must be disinfected before reuse. Where possible, each individual worker should be assigned his/her own eye protection to ensure appropriate fit and to minimize the potential of exposing the next wearer. A labeled container for used (potentially contaminated) eye protection should be available in the HCW change-out/locker room. Eye protection deposited here can be collected, disinfected, washed and then reused.

Source: NIOSH

Machinery & Machine Guarding, General Industry

Regulation 29 CFR 1910.212

Enforcement from October 2018-September 2019

Total citations: 1,981

Total inspections: 1,803

Total proposed penalties: $13,392,337

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking–Number 9

Industries most often violating machine & machine guarding requirements in general industry:

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing $2,731,872

Food Manufacturing $1,755,562

Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing $1,311,936

Machinery Manufacturing $783,597

Transportation Equipment Manufacturing $565,516

Wood Product Manufacturing $516,015

Paper Manufacturing $502,798

Primary Metal Manufacturing $492,576

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing $470,419

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $340,691


Moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns or blindness. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. Any machine part, function or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled. This page contains general information on the various hazards of mechanical motion and techniques for protecting workers.

Amputation Prevention

Amputations occur most often when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded mechanical power presses, power press brakes, powered and non-powered conveyors, printing presses, roll-forming and roll-bending machines, food slicers, meat grinders, meat-cutting band saws, drill presses and milling machines—as well as shears, grinders and slitters.

What types of machine components are hazardous?

The following types of mechanical components present amputation hazards:

  • Point of operation: the area of a machine where it performs work on material.
  • Power-transmission apparatuses: flywheels, pulleys, belts, chains, couplings, spindles, cams and gears, in addition to connecting rods and other machine components that transmit energy.
  • Other moving parts: machine components that move during machine operation, such as reciprocating, rotating and transverse moving parts, as well as auxiliary machine parts.

What kinds of mechanical motion are hazardous?

All mechanical motion is potentially hazardous. In addition to in-running nip points (“pinch points”)—which occur when two parts move together and at least one moves in a rotary or circular motion that gears, rollers, belt drives and pulleys generate—the following are the most common types of hazardous mechanical motion:

  • Rotating – circular movement of couplings, cams, clutches, flywheels and spindles, as well as shaft ends and rotating collars that may grip clothing or otherwise force a body part into a dangerous location.
  • Reciprocating – back-and-forth or up-and- down action that may strike or entrap a worker between a moving part and a fixed object.
  • Transversing – movement in a straight, continuous line that may strike or catch a worker in a pinch or shear point created between the moving part and a fixed object.
  • Cutting – action generated during sawing, boring, drilling, milling, slicing and slitting.
  • Punching – motion resulting when a machine moves a slide (ram) to stamp or blank metal or other material.
  • Shearing – movement of a powered slide or knife during metal trimming or shearing.
  • Bending – action occurring when power is applied to a slide to draw or form metal or other materials.

What can employers do to help protect workers from amputations?

You should be able to recognize, identify, manage and control amputation hazards commonly

found in the workplace, such as those caused by mechanical components of machinery; the mechanical motion that occurs in or near these components; and the activities that workers perform during mechanical operation.

Work practices, employee training and administrative controls can help prevent and control amputation hazards. Machine safeguarding with the following equipment is the best way to control amputations caused by stationary machinery:

  • Guards provide physical barriers that prevent access to hazardous areas. They should be secure and strong, and workers should not be able to bypass, remove or tamper with them. Guards should not obstruct the operator’s view or prevent employees from working.
  • Devices help prevent contact with points of operation and may replace or supplement guards. Devices can interrupt the normal cycle of the machine when the operator’s hands are at the point of operation; prevent the operator from reaching into the point of operation; or withdraw the operator’s hands if they approach the point of operation when the machine cycles. They must allow safe lubrication and maintenance and not create hazards or interfere with normal machine operation. In addition, they should be secure, tamper-resistant and durable.

You are responsible for safeguarding machines and should consider this need when purchasing machinery. New machinery is usually available with safeguards installed by the manufacturer. You can also purchase appropriate safeguards separately or build them in-house.


The following references aid in recognizing hazards from ineffective machine guarding:

  • Machine Guarding. OSHA eTool. Focuses on recognizing and controlling common amputation hazards associated with the operation and use of certain types of machines.
  • Machine Guarding: Horizontal Injection Molding Machines – Interactive Safety Tour. Allows user to take a virtual tour of an injection molding machine.
  • Amputations. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2002). Provides a general overview of amputations in the workplace.
  • Potential Hazards Associated with the Use of Replacement Materials for Machine Guarding (PDF). OSHA Hazard Information Bulletin (HIB). Clarifies that replacement machine guard windows must meet or exceed the manufacturer’s original design specifications.
  • 29 CFR 1910.217(g) Mechanical Power Press Point of Operation Injury Reports: 8/1994-12/2000. OSHA. Summarizes “point of operation” injuries from mechanical power presses.
  • Electrical. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
  • ANSI B11 Subcommittees. Provides brief descriptions of the subcommittees and the hazards they are addressing. The American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) B11 committee is responsible for developing machine tool safety standards. Additional information about ANSI standards is available on their website.
  • Injuries and Amputations Resulting from Work with Mechanical Power Presses. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 87-107 (Current Intelligence Bulletin 49), (March 1987). Describes the hazards of mechanical power presses and provides safety recommendations.
  • Machine Safety. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety & Health Topic. Links to several documents that discuss machinery safety for different types of agricultural equipment, and machine guarding in general.
  • Hazards of Operating Unguarded Stone Cutters and Splitters in Landscaping and Other Worksites. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB), (January 25, 2013).
  • Preventing Cuts and Amputations from Food Slicers and Meat Grinders. OSHA Fact Sheet (Publication 3794), (May 2015).

Fall Protection Training Requirements, Construction

Regulation 29 CFR 1926.503

Enforcement from Oct 2018-Sept2019

Total citations: 2,168

Total inspections: 2,111

Total proposed penalties: $3,361,214

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 8

Industries most often violating fall protection training requirements in construction standard:

Specialty Trade Contractors $3,064,014 (in proposed penalties)

Construction of Buildings $251,036

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $15,201

Telecommunications $11,950

Administrative and Support Services $5,364

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing $2,457

Justice, Public Order, and Safety Activities $4,641

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing $2,652

Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction $1,875

Waste Management and Remediation Services $569

The following training provisions supplement and clarify fall protection training:

  • The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.
  • The employer shall assure that each employee has been trained, as necessary, by a competent person qualified in the following areas:
  1. The nature of fall hazards in the work area
  2. The correct procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling and inspecting the fall protection systems to be used
  3. The use and operation of guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, safety net systems, warning line systems, safety monitoring systems, controlled access zones and other protection to be used
  4. The role of each employee in the safety monitoring system when this system is used
  5. The limitations on the use of mechanical equipment during the performance of roofing work on low-sloped roofs
  6. The correct procedures for the handling and storage of equipment and materials, and the erection of overhead protection
  7. The role of employees in fall protection plans
  8. The standards contained in this subpart

Certification of training

  • The employer shall verify compliance with paragraph (a) of this section by preparing a written certification record. The written certification record shall contain the name or other identity of the employee trained; the date(s) of the training; and the signature of the person who conducted the training or the signature of the employer. If the employer relies on training conducted by another employer or completed prior to the effective date of this section, the certification record shall indicate the date the employer determined the prior training was adequate rather than the date of actual training.
  • The latest training certification shall be maintained.


When the employer has reason to believe that any affected employee who has already been trained does not have the understanding and skill required by paragraph (a) of this section, the employer shall retrain each such employee. Circumstances where retraining is required include, but are not limited to, situations where:

  • Changes in the workplace render previous training obsolete
  • Changes in the types of fall protection systems or equipment to be used render previous training obsolete
  • Inadequacies in an affected employee’s knowledge or use of fall protection systems or equipment indicate that the employee has not retained the requisite understanding or skill.

Training Benefits

  • Recognize what a fall hazard is, including:
  • Identify fall hazards
  • Describe what a fall hazard is
  • Identify how to prevent injuries from fall hazards
  • Recognize major types of fall hazards, including:
  • List the major types of fall hazards in construction
  • Identify unprotected edges
  • List potential injuries caused by fall hazards
  • List factors contributing to falls
  • Recognize methods for protecting yourself from fall hazards, including:
  • Explain how fall protection is used to prevent injuries
  • List the different types of fall protection systems
  • Explain the proper uses of fall protection systems
  • Describe important aspects of personal fall arrest systems and fall protection
  • Recognize employer requirements to protect workers from fall hazards:
  • Describe ways the employers can protect workers from fall hazards
  • List the general requirements of employers to protect their workers from fall hazards
  • Explain the employers’ requirements for providing worker training

Source: OSHA Education Center

Fall Protection Training Toolbox Talks

How Toolbox Talks are formatted:

  • Each Toolbox Talk begins with an example of the types of incidents that are possible if workers do not follow the fall prevention guidelines outlined in the training.
  • Following the job site example, the Toolbox Talk lists guidelines for preventing falls related to the topic (e.g., ladders).
  • Finally, each training sheet includes blank lines for workers to include ways that the topic is applicable to their job site.

Preparing to teach the training sessions:

  1. Spend about 15 minutes to become familiar with the Toolbox
  2. Print a copy of a relevant Toolbox Talk and think about how the topic relates to your specific
  3. Look through the educational materials and resources listed at the end of the training guide, along with other materials on OSHA’s web site, to find materials to supplement the Toolbox

Advice for trainers:

Safety meetings work best if the whole crew actively participates. This makes it more interesting and more likely that people will remember the information you’ve given them. Here are some ways to encourage everyone to get involved:

  • Ask questions, instead of simply giving them information. After you ask a question, wait a short time to let people think. Then, call on volunteers to answer.
  • Ask about personal experience. This can help the group see how the topic is relevant to them. You could ask: “Has anyone here fallen off a ladder? What happened?”
  • Make sure everyone has a chance to talk. If a crew member is talking too much, invite someone else to speak.
  • Never make fun of anyone or put anyone down, especially for asking questions.
  • Don’t fake it. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t guess. Write the question down and promise to get back to them.
  • Stick to the topic. If the crew’s questions and comments move too far from the topic, tell them that their concerns can be addressed later, either privately or in a future safety meeting.

Powered Industrial Trucks, General Industry

Regulation 29 CFR 1910.178

Enforcement from October 2018-September 2019

Total citations: 2,414

Total inspections: 1,652

Total proposed penalties: $7,227,548

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 7

Industries most often violating the powered industrial trucks standard:

Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods $684,737 (in proposed penalties)

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $671,462

Warehousing and Storage $669,725

Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing $481,315

Specialty Trade Contractors $488,136

Food Manufacturing $282,251

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing $256,368

Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing $224,466

Machinery Manufacturing $206,869

Wood Product Manufacturing $169,249

NOTE:  Truck Transportation received $367,239 in proposed penalties


There are many types of powered industrial trucks. Each type presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high-lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident, because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck. Workplace type and conditions are also factors in hazards commonly associated with powered industrial trucks. For example, retail establishments often face greater challenges than other worksites in maintaining pedestrian safety. Beyond that, many workers can also be injured when (1) lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks; (2) lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer; (3) they are struck by a lift truck; or (4) they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

Reducing Hazards

Determining the best way to protect workers from injury largely depends on the type of truck operated and the worksite where it is being used. Employers must ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation. (This is specified in 29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1).)

Age Limit

It is a violation of Federal law for anyone under 18 years of age to operate a forklift or anyone over 18 who is not properly trained and certified to do so.

Daily Inspection Checklist: Electric Forklift Truck

KEY OFF Procedures

  • The vehicle inspection
  • Overhead guard
  • Hydraulic cylinders
  • Mast assembly
  • Lift chains and rollers
  • Forks
  • Tires
  • Examine the battery
  • Check the hydraulic fluid level

KEY ON Procedures 

  • Check the gauges
  • Hour meter
  • Battery discharge indicator
  • Test the standard equipment
  • Steering
  • Brakes
  • Front, tail and brake lights
  • Horn
  • Safety seat (if equipped)
  • Check the operation of load-handling attachments

Daily Inspection Checklist: Propane Forklift Truck

KEY OFF Procedures

  • The vehicle inspection
  • Overhead guard
  • Hydraulic cylinders
  • Mast assembly
  • Lift chains and rollers
  • Forks
  • Tires
  • LPG tank and locator pin
  • LPG tank hose
  • Gas gauge
  • Check the engine oil level
  • Examine the battery
  • Check the hydraulic fluid level
  • Check the engine coolant level

KEY ON Procedures

  • Test the front, tail, and brake lights


  • Check the gauges
  • Oil pressure indicator lamp
  • Ammeter indicator lamp
  • Hour meter
  • Water temperature gauge
  • Test the standard equipment
  • Steering
  • Brakes
  • Horn
  • Safety seat (if equipped)
  • Check the operation of load-handling attachments
  • Check the transmission fluid level

Where can an operator obtain the training required to become a certified forklift operator?
The employer is responsible for implementing a training program and ensuring that only trained drivers who have successfully completed the training program are allowed to operate powered industrial trucks. An evaluation of each trained operator must be conducted during the initial training, at least once every three years, and after refresher training. The training and evaluation may be conducted by the employer, if qualified, or an outside training organization.

What type of training is required?
The training must be a combination of formal (lecture, video, etc.) and practical (demonstration and practical exercises), and include an evaluation of operator performance in the workplace. Truck-related and workplace-related topics must be included, along with the requirements of the OSHA standard. The specific training topics are listed in the standard.

Who should conduct the training?
All training and evaluation must be conducted by a person with the necessary knowledge, training and experience to train operators and evaluate their competency. This may be the employer, another employee or other qualified person. The training and evaluation does not have to be conducted by a single individual, but can be done by several persons, provided each one is qualified.

Is refresher training required?
Refresher training is required when the operator has been observed driving unsafely; been involved in an accident or near-miss; received an evaluation that indicates unsafe operation; is assigned to drive a different type truck; or if a workplace condition affecting safe operation changes. An operator evaluation is required after refresher training.

What does “certified” mean?
The employer must certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated as required by the standard. The certification must include the name of the operator, date of training, date of evaluation, and the identity of the person(s) performing the training or evaluation.

Does an operator who has already been trained as a powered industrial truck operator have to be retrained under the new standard?
If an operator has received training in a required topic and the training is appropriate to the truck and the working conditions encountered, additional training in that topic is not required—if the operator has been evaluated and found competent.

Ladders, Construction

Regulation 29 CFR 1926.1053

Enforcement from Oct 2018-Sept 2019

Total citations: 2,907

Total inspections: 2,392

Total proposed penalties: $7,172,688

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 6

Industries most often violating the ladders in construction standard:

Specialty Trade Contractors $6,428,762 (in proposed penalties)

Construction of Buildings $544,596

Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction $75,873

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $34,127

Real Estate $14,624

Administrative and Support Services $12,323

Utilities $11,987

Accommodation $3,500

Electrical Equipment, Appliance and Component Mfg. $2,919

Food Services and Drinking Places $1,895


Falls from portable ladders (step, straight, combination and extension) are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries.

Portable Ladder Safety

  • Read and follow all labels/markings on the ladder.
  • Avoid electrical hazards! Look for overhead power lines before handling a ladder. Avoid using a metal ladder near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment.
  • Always inspect the ladder prior to using it. If the ladder is damaged, it must be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.
  • Always maintain a three-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing. Keep your body near the middle of the step and always face the ladder while climbing.
  • Only use ladders and appropriate accessories (ladder levelers, jacks or hooks) for their designed purposes.
  • Ladders must be free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps or feet.
  • Do not use a self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.
  • Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose.
  • Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface, unless it has been secured (top or bottom) to prevent displacement.
  • Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases to obtain additional height.
  • Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.
  • An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3ft above the point of support. Do not stand on the three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
  • The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface.
  • A ladder placed in any location where it can be displaced by other work activities must be secured to prevent displacement or a barricade must be erected to keep traffic away from the ladder.
  • Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
  • Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of the ladder’s load rating and of the weight it is supporting, including the weight of any tools or equipment.

Ladder Selection

Ladder safety starts here. Not all ladders are created equal, and different styles are designed to keep you safe in different situations and conditions. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right ladder for any job:

  • Select the right ladder style. Extension ladders, platform ladders, work platforms and even step ladders all have a place at home and on job sites. Choosing the correct ladder will help you stay safe when climbing or standing to perform a specific task.
  • Pick the right material. Aluminum ladders are lightweight and durable, but are not weather-resistant or non-conductive. Fiberglass ladders are weather-resistant and have non-conductive siderails, which make them a safe choice around electrical components.
  • Make sure the height is correct. Climbing to the top steps or standing too high on a ladder can put you at risk. Pick the ladder height that’s correct for the job. Extension ladders should be 7-10ft longer than your highest support point. Avoid standing above the fourth rung from the top on an extension ladder.
  • Make sure you choose a ladder that provides ample reach.A safe reach height is no more than 4ft from the top of the ladder.
  • Check ladder duty ratings or maximum load capacity before purchase. These ratings and a corresponding chart will tell you how much weight each ladder is capable of supporting. Light-duty ladders typically hold 200lbs; medium-duty and painter’s and handyman ladders hold about 22lbs. Heavy-duty, heavy-duty industrial ladders and special duty ladders can hold 250- 375lbs.
  • Choose a ladder that meets OSHA or ANSI regulations for industrial or commercial purposes.OHSA-approved and ANSI-approved ladders help keep your employees safe.

Ladder Inspection

  • Inspect your ladder before using it. Don’t use a ladder with structural damage.
  • Clean your ladder regularly. A clean ladder is much safer than a dirty ladder.
  • Check to make sure all moving parts work properly and are secured in place.
  • Never check a ladder by jumping up and down on it or using excess force to test for strength and integrity.

Climbing Tips

  • Face the ladder and keep three points of contact when climbing. Two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet is considered safe.
  • Make sure your ladder’s feet are firmly and securely on the ground.
  • Always face the ladder and use the rungs as grips. Avoid using the side rails to pull yourself up. Keep your body centered on the ladder.
  • Never climb with your back to the ladder.
  • Wear the right shoes. When climbing a ladder, you want to be wearing work boots or work shoes. Tennis shoes with appropriate tread are acceptable for light-duty jobs.
  • Avoid using your ladder outside in bad weather whenever possible.

Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) General Industry

Regulation 29 CFR 1910.147

Enforcement from Oct 2018-Sept 2019

Total citations: 2,839

Total inspections: 1,617

Total proposed penalties: $15,732,317

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 5

Industries most often violating LOTO standard:

Food Mfg. $2.9 million (in proposed penalties)

Plastics and Rubber Products Mfg. $1.8 million

Fabricated Metal Product Mfg. $1.6 million

Wood Product Mfg. $836,574

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Mfg. $787,787

Paper Mfg. $696,444

Machinery Mfg. $610,391

Chemical Mfg. $583,117

Transportation Equipment Mfg. $540,211

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $477,499

What is hazardous energy?

Energy sources, including electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to workers. During the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment, the unexpected startup or release of stored energy can result in serious injury or death to workers.

What are the harmful effects of hazardous energy?

Workers servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be seriously injured or killed if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. Injuries resulting from the failure to control hazardous energy during maintenance activities can be serious or fatal. Injuries may include electrocution, burns, crushing, cutting, lacerating, amputating, fracturing body parts and others.

Examples include:

  • A steam valve is automatically turned on burning workers who are repairing a downstream connection in the piping.
  • A jammed conveyor system suddenly releases, crushing a worker who is trying to clear the jam.
  • Internal wiring on a piece of factory equipment electrically shorts, shocking worker who is repairing the equipment.

Workers Most at Risk

Craft workers, electricians, machine operators and laborers are among the millions of workers who service equipment routinely and face the greatest risk of injury.

What can be done to control hazardous energy?

  • Proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures safeguard workers from hazardous energy releases. The LOTO standard establishes the employer’s responsibility to protect workers from hazardous energy. Workers must be trained in the purpose and function of the energy-control program and have the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage and removal of the energy control devices.
  • All employees who work in an area where energy control procedure(s) are utilized need to be instructed in the purpose and use of the energy control procedure(s), especially prohibition against attempting to restart or reenergize machines or other equipment that are locked or tagged out.
  • All employees who are authorized to lockout machines or equipment and perform the service and maintenance operations need to be trained in recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources in the workplace; the type and magnitude of energy found in the workplace; and the means and methods of isolating and/or controlling the energy.
  • Retraining of all employees to maintain proficiency or introduce new or changed control methods.

Why is controlling hazardous energy sources important?

Employees servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be exposed to serious physical harm or death if hazardous energy is not properly controlled. Compliance with the LOTO standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

What do employees need to know?

Employees need to be trained to ensure that they know, understand, and follow the applicable provisions of the hazardous energy-control procedures. The training must cover at least three areas: aspects of the employer’s energy control program; elements of the energy control procedure relevant to the employee’s duties or assignment; and the various requirements of the OSHA standards related to lockout/tagout.

What must employers do to protect employees?

  • Develop, implement and enforce an energy control program.
  • Use lockout devices for equipment that can be locked out. Tagout devices may be used in lieu of lockout devices, only if the tagout program provides employee protection equivalent to that provided through a lockout program.
  • Ensure that new or overhauled equipment is capable of being locked out.
  • Develop, implement and enforce an effective tagout program if machines or equipment are not capable of being locked out.
  • Develop, document, implement and enforce energy control procedures. [See the note to 29 CFR 1910.147(c)(4)(i) for an exception to the documentation requirements.]
  • Use only LOTO devices authorized for the particular equipment or machinery and ensure that they are durable, standardized and substantial.
  • Ensure that LOTO devices identify the individual users.
  • Establish a policy that permits only the employee who applied a LOTO device to remove it. [See 29 CFR 1910.147(e)(3) for exception.]
  • Inspect energy-control procedures at least annually.
  • Provide effective training as mandated for all employees covered by the standard.
  • Comply with the additional energy control provisions in OSHA standards when machines or equipment must be tested or repositioned; when outside contractors work at the site; in group lockout situations; and during shift or personnel changes.


Respiratory Protection, General Industry

Regulation 29 CFR 1910.134

Enforcement from Oct 2018-Sept 2019

Total citations: 2,931

Total inspections: 1,298

Total proposed penalties: $3,808,871

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 4

Industries most often violating the respiratory protection standard:

Fabricated Metal Product Mfg. $359,052 (in proposed penalties)

Specialty Trade Contractors $329,422

Chemical Mfg. $227,992

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Mfg. $213,493

Transportation Equipment Mfg. $183,956

Furniture and Related Product Mfg. $148,276

Machinery Mfg. $163,008

Repair and Maintenance $146,999

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $101,285

Construction of Buildings $81,669

Note: Support Activities for Transportation received $646,164 in proposed penalties

Are there any cautions or limitations when using respirators?

Yes. Each type of respirator can come in several varieties, each with its own set of cautions, limitations and restrictions of use. Tight-fitting respirators require fit-testing to ensure an adequate fit to the face, and cannot be used with facial hair. Certain escape respirators use a nose-clip and mouthpiece, which is clenched between your teeth, similar to a snorkel. Some respirators prevent the user from talking, while others have speaking diaphragms or electronic communication devices. Every respirator contaminated with hazardous chemicals should be cleaned and decontaminated or disposed of properly.

All respirators require training in order to be properly used. Sometimes you can practice using your own respirator. Some escape respirators come in a package that must remain sealed until use, so you need to be trained using a special “practice” version. Training is extremely important in regard to the storage, maintenance, use and disposal of the respirator. This information is provided by the supplier of the respirator (i.e., seller, distributor or manufacturer). If you do not use a respirator correctly, it is very likely that it will not adequately protect you and might even hurt you.

How well does a respirator need to fit?

If your mask does not make a tight seal all the way around your face when you inhale, you may breathe contaminated air that leaks around the edges of the face seal. Most respirators come in different styles and sizes and fit different people differently, because people’s faces have different shapes. You also need training to know how to correctly put the mask on and wear it correctly. This information should be provided by the supplier of the respirator.

The only way to tell if a tight-fitting respirator fits you properly and is capable of protecting you is to fit-test the respirator. Fit-testing can be accomplished a number of different ways and should be done by a health and safety professional before workers wear a respirator in a hazardous environment. Respirators must be checked for proper fit each time they are donned to ensure they provide adequate protection.

Can I wear a respirator if I have a beard?

Anything that prevents the face mask from fitting tightly against your face, such as a beard or long sideburns, may cause leakage. If your respirator requires a tight fit, you must trim back your beard so that it will not interfere with the face-facepiece seal. If your respirator is a loose-fitting (hooded) positive-pressure respirator (e.g., a powered air-purifying respirator, PAPR) then you may have a beard.

If I have the right cartridges/filters for a certain hazard, and my mask fits, will they always protect me against that hazard?

No. Gas masks and respirators reduce exposure to the hazard, but if the exposure is such that it goes beyond what the filter is capable of handling (either because the amount of toxic gas or particles is more than what the filter is designed to handle, or because the exposure lasts longer than what the filter is designed to handle), the filter may not be effective in providing required protection. Also, there may be a small amount of leakage, even if the fit of the respirator has been tested. If so, and if there is a large amount of a toxic chemical in the outside air, even that small leakage can be dangerous.

Can anyone wear a respirator?

No. Breathing through a respirator is more difficult than breathing in open air. People with lung diseases, such as asthma or emphysema, elderly people and others may have trouble breathing. People with claustrophobia may not be able to wear a full facepiece or hooded respirator. People with vision problems may have trouble seeing while wearing a mask or hood (there are special masks for people who need glasses). Employees must be medically evaluated before assigned to use a respirator.

Will my cartridge/filter and respirator mask protect forever?

No. Cartridges, filters and masks get old. If the filter cartridges are outdated; have been open to the air; or are damaged, you may not be protected. Cartridges that contain charcoal or other chemicals for filtering the air should be kept in air-tight packages until use. If cartridges are open or not packed in air-tight packaging, they should not be used. Even cartridges in original packaging have expiration dates that should be checked before purchase and use. Also, over time, your mask can get old and break down. Keep your mask in a clean, dry place—away from extreme heat or cold. Inspect it before and after use, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Cartridges also have a limited service life; they must be changed periodically during use.

Will a gas mask protect me if there is not enough oxygen in the air?

No. Air-purifying respirators do not provide oxygen. If used in an environment with low oxygen levels, such as in a fire or a confined space, you are in danger of asphyxiation.

Will a gas mask protect me if there is a fire?

Most will not. It’s important to read the manufacturer’s information if your main concern is to be able to escape from a smoke-filled building. Smoke particles can rapidly clog gas mask filters, and filters with special chemicals are needed to protect against carbon monoxide and other gases that may occur in a fire. Not all gas masks or escape respirators protect against these hazards. Some components, including hoods and facepieces, of many of the gas masks and escape respirators may melt if exposed to a fire.

Once I put on my gas mask, how long will it last?

That depends on how much filtering capacity the respirator has and the amount of hazard in the –the more chemical or biological hazard in the air (higher concentration), the shorter the time your filter will last. There is no absolute time limit, and it will vary by each respirator model’s capacities and the concentration of the hazard.

Questions to consider regarding any respirator you are considering purchasing:

  • What protection (which chemicals and particles, and at what levels) does the respirator provide?
  • Is there more than one size?
  • Which size should I use?
  • How do I know if the gas mask or respirator will fit?
  • What type of training do I need?
  • Are there any special maintenance or storage conditions?
  • Will I be able to talk while wearing the respirator?
  • Does the hood restrict vision or head movement in any way?
  • Can I carry the device in the trunk of my automobile?
  • Is a training respirator available?

Scaffolding, General Requirements, Construction

Regulation 29 CFR 1926.451

Enforcement from Oct 2018-Sept 2019

Total citations: 3,400

Total inspections: 1,680

Total proposed penalties: $10,485,196

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 3

Industries most often violating the scaffolding in construction standard:

Specialty Trade Contractors $8,401,079 (in proposed penalties)

Construction of Buildings $1,507,877

Fabricated Metal Product Mfg. $285,956

Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction $53,720

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $49,650

Administrative and Support Services $34,133

Performing Arts, Spectator Sports and Related Industries $15,370

Support Activities for Transportation $11,602

Wood Product Mfg. $10,394

Educational Services $10,000


The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported 54 fatalities occurred in the year 2009 from scaffolds and staging. In a Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) study, 72% of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way; or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. All of these can be controlled by compliance with OSHA standards.

What are scaffold platform construction requirements?

Each platform must be planked and decked as fully as possible with the space between the platform and uprights not more than 1in (2.5cm) wide. The space must not exceed 9½-in (24.1cm) when side brackets or odd-shaped structures result in a wider opening between the platform and the uprights. [29 CFR 1926.451(b)(1)]

What are the requirements for scaffold planking?

Scaffold planking must be able to support, without failure, its own weight and at least four times the intended load. [29 CFR 1926.451(a)(1)]

Solid sawn wood, fabricated planks and fabricated platforms may be used as scaffold planks following the recommendations by the manufacturer or a lumber grading association or inspection agency. [29 CFR 1926 Subpart L Appendix A(1)(b) & (c)]

Tables showing maximum permissible spans, rated load capacity and nominal thickness are in 29 CFR 1926 Subpart L Appendix A(1)(b) & (c) of the standard.

How wide does the work area need to be on scaffolding?

Each scaffold platform and walkway must be at least 18 inches (46 cm) wide, guardrails and/or personal fall arrest systems must be used. [29 CFR 1926.451(b)(2)]

Are guardrails required on all open sides of scaffolding?

The standard requires employers to protect each employee on a scaffold more than 10ft (3.1m) above a lower level from falling to that lower level. [29 CFR 1926.451(g)(1)]

To ensure adequate protection, install guardrails along all open sides and ends before releasing the scaffold for use by employees, other than the erection and dismantling crews. [29 CFR 1926.451(g)(4)(i)]

Guardrails are not required, however:

What materials are unacceptable for guardrails?

Steel or plastic banding must not be used as a toprail or a midrail. [29 CFR 1926.451(g)(4)(xiii)]

Using Aerial Lifts

The major causes of injuries and fatalities involving aerial lifts are falls, electrocutions and collapses or tip-overs. Aerial devices include boom-supported aerial platforms, such as cherry pickers or bucket trucks, aerial ladders and vertical towers (OSHA regulates scissor lifts as mobile scaffolds, not as aerial devices). Safe work practices for aerial lifts include:

  • Ensure that workers who operate aerial lifts are properly trained in the safe use of the equipment. Test the controls and inspect the aerial lift before use each day. Make sure that all controls are clearly marked as to their function.
  • Never override hydraulic, mechanical or electrical safety devices. Maintain and operate aerial lifts according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Always stand firmly on the basket floor. Do not sit or climb on the edge or rails of the basket. Never use planks, boxes or other items inside the basket to extend your reach.
  • Ensure that all wheels of an elevated lift are on a solid base. Use outriggers, if provided. Set the brakes and use wheel chocks when on an incline. Do not exceed the load limits of the equipment. Allow for the combined weight of the worker(s), tools and materials.
  • De-energize and lockout/tagout aerial lifts before performing any maintenance or repairs.

Hazard Communication Standard, General Industry

Regulation 29 CFR 1910.1200

Enforcement from Oct 2018-Sept 2019

Total citations: 4,111

Total inspections: 2,280

Total proposed penalties: $5,074,981

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 2

Industries most often violating the hazard communication standard:

Specialty Trade Contractors $556,264 (in proposed penalties)

Fabricated Metal Product Mfg. $483,739

Administrative and Support Services $270,410

Nonmetallic Mineral Product Mfg. $259,348

Chemical Mfg. $230,722

Repair and Maintenance $223,266

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $181,559

Transportation Mfg. $139,977

Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers $115,722

Furniture and Related Product Mfg. $107,709

Why did OSHA modify the hazard communication standard to adopt to the Globally Harmonized System?

OSHA has modified the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to adopt the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) to improve safety and health of workers through more effective communications on chemical hazards. While the available information has been helpful in improving employee safety and health, a more standardized approach to classifying the hazards and conveying the information will be more effective. The GHS provides such a standardized approach, including detailed criteria for determining what hazardous effects a chemical poses, as well as standardized label elements assigned by hazard class and category. The safety data sheet requirements establish an order of information that is standardized. The harmonized format of the safety data sheets will enable employers, workers, health professionals and emergency responders to access the information more efficiently and effectively, thus increasing their utility.

What are the major changes to the hazard communication standard?

The three major areas of change are in hazard classification, labels and safety data sheets.

Hazard classification: The definitions of hazard have been changed to provide specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures. These specific criteria will help to ensure that evaluations of hazardous effects are consistent across manufacturers, and that labels and safety data sheets are more accurate as a result.

Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.

Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.

The GHS does not include harmonized training provisions but recognizes that training is essential to an effective hazard communication approach. The revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires that workers be retrained within two years of the publication of the final rule to facilitate recognition and understanding of the new labels and safety data sheets.

For a side-by-side comparison of the current HCS and the final revised HCS please see OSHA’s hazard communication safety and health topics webpage.

What hazard communication standard provisions are unchanged?

The revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is a modification to the existing standard. The parts of the standard that did not relate to the GHS (such as the basic framework, scope and exemptions) remained largely unchanged. There have been some modifications to terminology in order to align the revised HCS with language used in the GHS. For example, the term “hazard determination” has been changed to “hazard classification” and “material safety data sheet” was changed to “safety data sheet.”

Employer Responsibilities

Employers must ensure that the SDSs are readily accessible to employees for all hazardous chemicals in their workplace. This may be done in many ways. For example, employers may keep the SDSs in a binder or on computers, as long as the employees have immediate access to the information without leaving their work area when needed and a back-up is available for rapid access to the SDS—in the case of a power outage or other emergency. Furthermore, employers may want to designate a person(s) responsible for obtaining and maintaining the SDSs. If the employer does not have an SDS, the employer or designated person(s) should contact the manufacturer to obtain one.

Training Requirements

Employers shall provide employees with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area at the time of their initial assignment and whenever a new chemical hazard the employees have not previously been trained about is introduced into their work area. Information and training may be designed to cover categories of hazards (e.g., flammability, carcinogenicity) or specific chemicals. Chemical-specific information must always be available through labels and safety data sheets.

Employees shall be informed of:

  • The requirements of this section;
  • Any operations in their work area where hazardous chemicals are present; and,
  • The location and availability of the written hazard communication program, including the required list(s) of hazardous chemicals and safety data sheets required by this section.

Employee training shall include at least:

  • Methods and observations that may be used to detect the presence or release of a hazardous chemical in the work area (such as monitoring conducted by the employer, continuous monitoring devices, visual appearance or odor of hazardous chemicals when being released, etc.);
  • The physical, health, simple asphyxiation, combustible dust and pyrophoric gas hazards, as well as hazards not otherwise classified, of the chemicals in the work area;
  • The measures employees can take to protect themselves from these hazards, including specific procedures the employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as appropriate work practices, emergency procedures and PPE to be used; and,
  • The details of the hazard communication program developed by the employer, including an explanation of the labels received on shipped containers and the workplace labeling system used by their employer; and the safety data sheet, including the order of information and how employees can obtain and use the appropriate hazard information.

Inspection Procedures for the Hazard Communication Standard

Are end-user employers required to re-label existing stock of containers?

End-users (i.e., employers) with existing stock or who have received shipped containers of hazardous chemicals with HCS 1994 labels (even after the June 1, 2016, final effective date) are allowed to maintain and use those containers with HCS 1994 labels. The end-user must not remove or deface any chemical containers with HCS 1994 labels, unless the end-user immediately marks the containers with workplace labeling. If an end-user receives HCS 2012 labels from an upstream supplier for its existing stock, it is advisable to affix the HCS 2012 label over the HCS 1994 label, although it is not required. The end-user is responsible for training its workers regarding the new label elements.

Is “trade secret” the only compliant wording allowed on a safety data sheet to indicate that an ingredient is being withheld per the trade secret provisions of HCS?

In addition to the use of “trade secret,” OSHA would also accept language such as “confidential,” “confidential business information” or “proprietary” when indicating on an SDS that information is being withheld when that information is subject to trade secret provisions of HCS. [See 77 FR 17474, 17738 (Mar. 26, 2012).]

Fall Protection, Construction

Regulation 29 CFR 1926.501

Enforcement from Oct 2018-Sept 2019

Total citations 7,242

Total inspections: 7,039

Total proposed penalties: $39,489,226

Most Frequently Violated OSHA Standard Ranking – Number 1

Industries most often violating LOTO standard:

Special Trade Contractors $35,3 Million (in proposed penalties)

Construction of Buildings $3.5 Million

Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods $203,085

Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction $151,595

Administrative and Support Services $33,552

Repair and Maintenance $32,771

Waste Management and Remediation Services $31,273

Real Estate $29,003

Fabricated Metal Product Mfg. $28,770

Utilities $19,383

Hazards: Falls are the Leading Cause of Death in Construction

In 2018, there were 320 fatal falls to a lower level out of 1,008 construction fatalities (BLS data).

Why is fall protection important?

Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. Employers must set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated workstations, or into holes in the floor and walls.

What can be done to reduce falls?

Employers must set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated workstations, or into holes in the floor and walls. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of 4ft in general industry workplaces, 5ft in shipyards, 6ft in the construction industry and 8ft in longshoring operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.

To prevent employees from being injured from falls, employers must:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt), employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and handrails.

OSHA requires employers to:

  • Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers.
  • Keep floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition.
  • Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers.
  • Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand.

Three strategies to prevent falls in construction

  1. Plan ahead to get the job done safely

When working from heights, employers must plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely. Begin by deciding how the job will be done; what tasks will be involved; and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.

When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site. For example, in a roofing job, think about all of the different fall hazards, such as holes or skylights and leading edges, then plan and select fall protection suitable to that work, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).

  1. Provide the right equipment

Workers who are 6ft or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds and safety gear.

Use the right ladder or scaffold to get the job done safely. For roof work, if workers use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the PFAS fits, and regularly inspect it for safe use.

  1. Train everyone to use the equipment safely

Every worker should be trained on proper set-up and safe use of equipment they use on the job. Employers must train workers in recognizing hazards on the job.

At-Risk Fall Exposures


Floor openings

Fixed scaffolds

Bridge decking


Leading edge work

Solar industry


Wind towers

Telecommunication towers

Residential construction

Commercial construction

Aerial devices & elevating equipment

Fatality reports:


If you missed OSHA’s 7th Annual Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, which took place September 14-18, you can still hold your own stand-down, with safe social distancing in mind. Information is available on the OSHA website.

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