US Dept of Labor

Occupational Safety & Health AdministrationWe Can Help

OSHA’s Variance Program

A variance is a regulatory action that permits an employer to deviate from the requirements of an OSHA standard under specified conditions. A variance does not provide an outright exemption from a standard, except in cases involving national defense as described below. Sections 6 and 16 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), and the implementing rules contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (29 CFR 1905 and 1904.38), authorized variances from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. An employer or class of employers may request a variance for any specific workplaces. Employers can request a variance for many reasons, including not being able to fully comply on time with a new safety or health standard because of a shortage of personnel, materials, or equipment. Employers may prefer to use methods, equipment, or facilities that they believe protect workers as well as, or better than, OSHA standards.

 

The Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities (OTPCA) in OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management (DTSEM) receives and processes variance applications. OTPCA processes variance applications in close collaboration with other affected regional offices and directorates. OSHA's mandate is to ensure that employers' alternatives for worker protection proposed in their variance applications are as effective in providing worker protection as the standards from which the employers are seeking a variance.

For questions about the variance process contact OSHA at VarianceProgram@dol.gov.

Employers and Variance Applicants
Employers and Variance Applicants
Variance Program Laws, Regulations, and Directives
Variance Program Laws, Regulations, and Directives
Granted or Denied Variances
Granted or Denied Variances
OSHA Approved State Plans
OSHA Approved State Plans

Employers located in states with their own occupational safety and health programs should check the state plan(s’) variance application regulations and apply to the state(s) for a variance. If however, an employer operates facilities in states under federal OSHA jurisdiction and also in state plans, the employer may apply directly to federal OSHA for a single variance applicable to all the establishments in question. OSHA will then work with the state plans involved to determine if a variance can be granted which will satisfy state as well as federal OSHA requirements.

For questions about state plans please visit OSHA’s State Plans Web page and for questions about the variance process contact OSHA at VarianceProgram@dol.gov.


*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300.

**eBooks - EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.

Back to Top

Thank You for Visiting Our Website

You are exiting the Department of Labor's Web server.

The Department of Labor does not endorse, takes no responsibility for, and exercises no control over the linked organization or its views, or contents, nor does it vouch for the accuracy or accessibility of the information contained on the destination server. The Department of Labor also cannot authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked Web sites. Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the linked Web site. Thank you for visiting our site. Please click the button below to continue.

Close