Compliance Assistance Quick Start

Follow the steps below to identify the major OSHA general industry requirements and guidance materials that may apply to your workplace. These steps will lead you to resources on OSHA's website that will help you comply with OSHA requirements and prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. General Industry

Step 1: OSHA Requirements That Apply to Most General Industry Employers

The following are selected OSHA requirements that apply to many general industry employers.

  1. Hazard Communication Standard. This standard is designed to ensure that employers and employees know about hazardous chemicals in the workplace and how to protect themselves. Employers with employees who may be exposed to hazardous chemicals in the workplace must prepare and implement a written Hazard Communication Program and comply with other requirements of the standard.
  2. Emergency Action Plan Standard. OSHA recommends that all employers have an Emergency Action Plan. A plan is mandatory when required by an OSHA standard. An Emergency Action Plan describes the actions employees should take to ensure their safety in a fire or other emergency situation.
  3. Fire Safety. OSHA recommends that all employers have a Fire Prevention Plan. A plan is mandatory when required by an OSHA standard.
  4. Exit Routes. All employers must comply with OSHA's requirements for exit routes in the workplace.
  5. Walking/Working Surfaces. Falls from heights and on the same level (a working surface) are among the leading causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. OSHA issued a final rule on November 18, 2016 on walking-working surfaces and personal fall protection systems to better protect workers in general industry from these hazards by updating and clarifying standards and adding training and inspection requirements. Most of the rule became effective January 17, 2017, with delayed compliance dates for some provisions.
  6. Medical and First Aid. OSHA requires employers to provide medical and first-aid personnel and supplies commensurate with the hazards of the workplace. The details of a workplace medical and first-aid program are dependent on the circumstances of each workplace and employer.

NOTE:To find the OSHA standards that are most frequently cited by OSHA inspectors, visit Frequently Cited OSHA Standards. On that page, you can find the most frequently cited federal or state OSHA standards based on your industry's North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code and the number of employees in your establishment.

Step 2: OSHA Requirements That May Apply to Your Workplace

In addition to the OSHA requirements covered in Steps 1, a number of other OSHA standards may apply to your workplace. The following checklist can help you identify other key OSHA standards that may apply and point you to information to help you comply with those standards.

  1. If you have employees who operate machinery (e.g., saws, slicers, shears, slitters, power presses, etc.), you may be subject to OSHA's Machine Guarding requirements.
  2. If your employees service or maintain machines or equipment that could start up unexpectedly or release hazardous energy, you may be subject to OSHA's Lockout/Tagout requirements.
  3. Electrical hazards, such as wiring deficiencies, are one of the hazards most frequently cited by OSHA. OSHA's electrical standards include design requirements for electrical systems and safety-related work practices.
  4. Employers must perform an assessment of each operation in their workplace to determine if their employees are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Note that engineering controls and work practices are the preferred methods for protecting employees ― OSHA generally considers PPE to be the least desirable means of controlling employee exposure.
  5. If necessary to protect the health of your employees, you must provide appropriate respirators. You must establish a Respiratory Protection program that meets the requirements of OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard.
  6. Employers whose employees are exposed to excessive noise (e.g., conditions that make normal conversation difficult) may be required to implement a Hearing Conservation program.
  7. Employers should evaluate their workplaces for the presence of confined spaces.
  8. If employees may be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials as part of their assigned duties, you may be subject to OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard.
  9. If your employees operate Powered Industrial Trucks (i.e., forklifts), you may be subject to OSHA's Powered Industrial Trucks standard.

This list is not comprehensive - additional OSHA standards may apply to your workplace. Be sure to review OSHA's general industry standards (29 CFR 1910) for other requirements. In addition, section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, known as the General Duty Clause, requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace that is free of recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

  • You may review and print FREE copies of OSHA's general industry standards from OSHA's Web site (29 CFR 1910).
  • You may also order bound volumes of the standards from the Government Printing Office (GPO) at (866) 512-1800 or from GPO's website. To get the complete set of general industry standards from GPO, you will need to order the following two volumes: (1) Title 29, Parts 1900 to 1910 (section 1910.1 to 1910.999) and (2) Title 29, Part 1910 (sections 1910.1000 to end).

Step 3: Survey Your Workplace for Additional Hazards

Survey your workplace for additional hazards and OSHA requirements by:

  • Using the Self-Inspection Checklists in OSHA's Small Business Safety and Health Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209.
  • Using an online tool.OSHA eTool: OSHA Hazard Awareness Advisor. This tool can help you identify and understand common safety and health hazards in your workplace. It will ask you about activities, practices, material, equipment, and policies at your workplace. The Hazard Awareness Advisor uses your answers to determine the hazards that are likely to be present. It then prepares a customized report that briefly describes the likely hazards and the OSHA standards that address those hazards.
  • Using OSHA's Hazard identification Training Tool. This is a game-based training tool for small business owners and workers interested in learning the core concepts of hazard identification. After using this tool, users will better understand the process to identify hazards in their own workplace.
  • Reviewing OSHA's Safety and Health Information Bulletins

Step 4: Develop a Comprehensive Jobsite Safety and Health Program

While OSHA does not require employers to develop comprehensive safety and health programs, development and implementation of these programs is an effective way to comply with OSHA standards and prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. The information you've obtained from the steps above is a good start for developing a comprehensive safety and health program.

For help in developing a program:

Learn how a safety and health program can add value to your organization:

Step 5: Train Your Employees

Learn about resources available from OSHA for training employers and employees by:

NOTE: A number of OSHA standards include employee training requirements. For a listing of these requirements, see Training Requirements in OSHA Standards (PDF) OSHA Publication 2254. This publication also includes voluntary training guidelines that employers can use to help design, conduct, evaluate, and revise their safety and health training programs.

Step 6: Recordkeeping, Reporting and Posting

  1. Reporting Fatalities and Severe Injuries. All employers, regardless of size or industry, must report to OSHA all work-related fatalities within 8 hours. All employers must also report to OSHA all work-related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations, and all loses of an eye within 24 hours.
  2. Recordkeeping. OSHA requires certain employers to keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses (29 CFR 1904).
  3. Electronic Submission of Injury and Illness Data. An OSHA rule requires certain employers to electronically submit certain injury and illness data through OSHA's Injury Tracking Application (ITA).
  4. OSHA Poster. All employers must post the OSHA Poster (or state plan equivalent) in a prominent location in the workplace. Download or order the OSHA Poster in English, Spanish, and several other languages.
  5. Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records. An OSHA standard (29 CFR 1910.1020) requires employers to provide employees, their designated representatives, and OSHA with access to employee exposure and medical records. Employers generally must maintain employee exposure records for 30 years and medical records for the duration of the employee's employment plus 30 years.

NOTE: If your workplace is in a state operating an OSHA-approved state program, state plan recordkeeping regulations, although substantially identical to federal ones, may have some more stringent or supplemental requirements, such as for reporting of fatalities and catastrophes. Contact your state program directly for additional information.

Step 7: Find Additional Compliance Assistance Information

  1. Where can I find a collection of OSHA resources designed for smaller employers?
  2. Do you have Spanish-speaking employees?
  3. Do you employ temporary workers?
  4. Do you employ teen or young workers?
  5. Where can I find information to prevent heat illnesses in outdoor workers?
  6. Are you concerned that your employees could suffer musculoskeletal disorders at the workplace?
    • Visit OSHA's Ergonomics page to learn about OSHA's approach to ergonomics, review OSHA's voluntary ergonomic guidelines for various industries, and find training resources.
  7. Has OSHA developed any compliance assistance information targeted for my specific industry?
  8. How do I find out about OSHA's voluntary programs and other ways to work cooperatively with OSHA?
  9. How can I find OSHA's guidance on preparing workplaces for pandemic influenza?
  10. How can I keep up to date on OSHA's compliance assistance resources?
  11. What if I still have questions?