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Top 10 OSHA standards that drive safety managers crazy

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Ever wish you could have someone translate an OSHA standard into plain English? You’re not alone.

When it comes to interpreting exactly what OSHA requires of employers, your peers often go directly to the source to find out.

In fact, OSHA keeps track of the top safety and health topic questions it receives.

The agency keeps two lists depending on how it receives the questions: by e-mail or phone.

Eight topics appear on both lists.

The following were the top 10 topics raised via e-mail questions handled by OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs in March 2009, followed by the pertinent standard and the topic’s corresponding position on the phone list:

  1. Powered industrial trucks (1910.178, #3)
  2. Sanitation (1910.141, #4)
  3. Hazard communication (1910.1200, #2)
  4. Bloodborne pathogens (1910.1030, #1)
  5. Personal protective equipment, general requirements (1910.132, #5)
  6. Medical services and first aid (1910.151, #6)
  7. Ergonomics (no OSHA standard, not on phone list)
  8. Electrical, general requirements (1910.303, not on phone list)
  9. Respiratory protection (1910.134, #8)
  10. Air contaminants (1910.1000, #7).

The two questions in the top-10 list of questions received by phone that aren’t on the e-mail list are about indoor air quality (no OSHA standard) and permit-required confined spaces (1910.146).

We’d like to hear from you on this topic. Which OSHA standard drives you crazy? Which one is the most difficult to understand? Have you ever sought advice from any sources on a standard? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  • LEU

    OSHA regs are just like the income tax regs – thousands of pages of gobbeldy-gook legalese that 98% of the people who WROTE the legislation can’t understand it. Plus, no matter how conscientious you are with safety, if something happens they can nail you on the ridiculous general duty clause.

    Government has gotten too big to manage.

  • Jason B

    I have a handbook that I received during my OSHA 10 hour class that I use to “decipher” OSHA regs. Most regs are generally easy to understand but it can get confusing with a bunch of interpretation letters clouding the reg. I have yet to contact OSHA directly but if they see a high frequency of clarifications requested that should be a green light that they need to be rewritten.

  • http://combustibledust.com/ John Astad

    Top OSHA Citations in Mfg sector 2007-2008 http://tinyurl.com/nls9x5 via http://www.diigo.com/~comdust #mfg versus top 10 topics raised via e-mail questions handled by OSHA http://bit.ly/SCjMS

    Good job Fred on the post!

  • sean

    Honestly I’ve found in two years time that the OSHA regs are generally easy to read although a bit vague. I am fortunate though in that I can consult the OSHA outreach(white hats) and they are of great help. I did have to make a call to our regional OSHA and then got advised to write Washington on a HazCom issue. But 4-6 months later I received a reply that was easy to understand and backed by interpretive regs. I can see why HazCom would be rated #3&#2.

  • lee c. from DE

    subj- ‘osha standards that drive maintenance managers crazy’.

    i find interpretations of the confined space entry regs to be the most unreasonable, onerous & frustrating for me as a mgr. of an operating/maintenance dept.
    i’ve had safety professionals prevent my workers from reaching a gloved hand into a narrow ‘handhole’ [large enough for an arm only] in the ground, or on shut down equipt., to operate a valve or make an adjustment; saying it ‘breaks the plane of the opening’.
    seems irrational -considering the actual, likely risk.
    Likewise, accessing established crawl spaces or large valve pits that have been around for 50+ years with no history of hazardous atmospheres or above-ambient temps.
    many safety professionals [in several fortune 500 companies i’ve worked for] advocate excessive, irrational, ‘over-the-top, over-testing of atmospheres and temps.; & set-up of extraction equipt.
    i agree that atmos. [or other appropriate] testing is reasonable if hi temps., pressurized gases, or other clearly hazardous conditions are present; otherwise, more appropriate, reasonable measures should be the std.

  • vincent

    I totally agree with Lee, working as Occupational Health & Safety, i do encounter this problem back in my workplace but do we have to be so strict at time but i do also believe at time we do have to flexible allow work to be carry out reasonable. prehap we strict at time , and lenient at time inorder for work to be able to carry out else we are totally wasting our value time & money!