- Standard Number:
OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
THE ISSUES RELATED TO OSHA AND WORK AT HOME ARE PRESENTLY UNDER REVIEW. SEE ASSISTANT SECRETARY JEFFRESS' JANUARY 28, 2000 TESTIMONY REGARDING OSHA COVERAGE OF WORKING AT HOME.
October 7, 1993
Mr. Hyman Richman
3 Bayard Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Dear Mr. Richman:
This is in further response to your letter of July 21 in which you inquired about the effect of flexi-place on the mission and jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
We agree that the flexi-place concept is likely to continue to be accepted and implemented. It offers chance to reduce overhead costs while increasing the effectiveness of an operation. The savings on office space, travel time, and commuting can be mutually beneficial to employer and employee.
The employer is not likely to relinquish the right to determine the conditions of employment, or control over the processes or production methods associated with the business. The employer decides if, when, and under what conditions an employee may work at home. This gives the employer authority to exercise the full range of responsibilities pertaining to the safety and health of the employee. His responsibility to uphold the safety and health laws extends as far, and is equally as binding, as his responsibility to protect the fiscal well being of the organization.
Assurance of safe and healthful working conditions for the employee should be a precondition for any home based work assignment. This includes materials, equipment and methods provided or required by the employer. We reserve judgement at this time as to the extent of OSHA coverage for other conditions found in the home workplace. We note, however, that the home workplace may create special hazards for others who dwell with the worker, especially children. As the number of employees using flexi-place expands, scheduled inspections become increasingly less practical as the primary OSHA enforcement approach for the protection of these employees. Training and education, agreements between employees and employers, and other strategies which enable the employee to take the lead in fostering his/her own safety and health will become more important as the line between home and the workplace fades.
Although flexi-place and other unnamed changes that are certain to occur in the near future will challenge OSHA to rethink and revise some of the current methods, the requirement to protect the safety and health of American workers will continue as the primary mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The Agency will adjust to the changes and continue to fulfill its mission.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter.
Roger A. Clark, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs