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What the OSHA Standards Say


Code of Federal Regulations

OSHA issues standards under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) which are published by the Federal Register. The CFR contains 50 Titles and is updated once a year. Each Title is divided into Chapters. Chapters are divided into Parts, and finally, Parts are organized into Sections. Under each Part, such as Part 1926, major blocks of information are broken into subparts. For example, Subpart H is the standard for Acetylene and is covered in 29 CFR 1910.102. See the image above for the complete reference.

What do OSHA standards do?

    OSHA standards:
  • limit the amount of hazardous chemicals, substances, or noise that workers can be exposed to;
  • require the use of certain safe work practices and equipment; and
  • require employers to monitor certain hazards and keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses.

Organizing OSHA Standards

CFR 29 Part 1910 is known as the General Industry Standards. Some of the types of industries covered by the General Industry standards are manufacturing, the service sector, and health care.

Part 1926 covers the Construction Industry.

Parts 1915, 1917 and 1918 cover the Maritime Industry.

Part 1928 covers Agriculture Industry.

All OSHA standards are available on OSHA’s website. You can look them up by the standard number or do a search by topic.

Check out this short audio clip by Dan Clark of the that tells you about a database that accurately compares state and federal OSHA laws and regulations.

Four “Types” of OSHA Standards

  1. Horizontal standards– apply across all industries. Examples of horizontal standards would be those related to:
    1. fall protection
    2. walking/working surfaces
    3. first aid
    4. electrical hazards
    5. machine guarding
    6. respiratory protection
  2. Vertical standards– are industry specific. Examples of vertical standards would include those applying to the following:
  3. logging
    1. longshore operations
    2. textiles
    3. sawmills
    4. logging
    5. construction
  4. Performance standards– allow the employer to choose a method of compliance. An example of a performance standard would state: “One or more methods of fall protection shall be provided…”
  5. Specification standards– which provides the exact procedure or measurement the employer must use to comply. An example of a specification standards would state, “Top edge height of top rails, or equivalent guardrail system members, shall be 42 inches (1.1 m) plus or minus 3 inches (8 cm) above the walking/working level.”

The General Duty Clause


We discussed previously, where there are no specific OSHA standards, employers must comply with the OSH Act's "general duty clause." The General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires that each employer "furnish ... a place of employment which [is] free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

OSHA Construction Standards for Scaffolds and Fall Protection

The scaffold requirement says that employers shall have each employee who performs work while on a scaffold trained by a person qualified in the subject matter to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used and to understand the procedures to control or minimize those hazards. It goes into detail about what the training must cover. The fall protection standard has similar requirements.

Working with Hazardous Chemicals


OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard applies to both General Industry and Construction workers and requires that employers provide workers with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area at the time of their initial assignment, and whenever a new physical or health hazard is introduced. In addition, as we discussed earlier, chemical-specific information must always be available through labels and safety data sheets (SDSs).

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


OSHA requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective in reducing these exposures to acceptable levels. Employers are required to determine if PPE should be used to protect their workers.

If PPE is to be used, a PPE program should be implemented. This program should address the hazards present; the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training of employees; and monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.

1910.132(f) (which applies to General Industry workplaces) contains detailed training requirements for workers who must wear or use PPE.

Most Frequently Cited Standards

The following is a list of the top 10 most frequently cited standards for 2017 following inspections of worksites by federal OSHA. OSHA publishes this list to alert employers about these commonly cited standards so they can take steps to find and fix recognized hazards addressed in these and other standards before OSHA shows up. Far too many preventable injuries and illnesses occur in the workplace.

  1. 1926.501 - Fall Protection - Construction
  2. 1910.1200 - Hazard Communication - General Industry
  3. 1926.451 - Scaffolding - Construction
  4. 1910.134 - Respiratory Protection - General Industry
  5. 1910.147 - Lockout/Tagout - General Industry
  6. 1926.1053 - Ladders - Construction
  7. 1910.178 - Powered Industrial Trucks - General Industry
  8. 1910.212 - Machine Guarding - General Industry
  9. 1926.503 - Fall Protection - Training Requirements - Construction
  10. 1910.305 - Electrical- Wiring Methods - General Industry


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. The OSHA standards for Construction and General Industry are also known as _____.

2. Which of the following types of OSHA standards are industry specific?

3. Which of the following types of OSHA standards allows the employer to choose a method of compliance?

4. The OSHA Standard discussing machine guarding is considered a ____________ standard.

5. The _____ requires that each employer furnish a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.