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Osha Handbook For Small Businesses, Part 4


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A source of help now available in all states is free on-site consultation.

You may request a visit from a consultant who will give you practical advice about your job site's safety and health protection. These consultants do not issue citations, propose penalties or routinely provide information about you or your workplace conditions to the federal inspection staff.

State government agencies deliver these services which are funded substantially by federal OSHA.

To request a consultation, you need to contact a state office. The addresses appear later in this CD literature.

Because employers, not employees, are subject to legal sanctions of the Act, you will have the option of deciding whether employees or their representatives will participate in the on-site consultation visit. Consultants, however, will be required to explain that OSHA allows employee participation during inspections.

While the on-site consultants do not write citations, issue proposed penalties, or routinely provide consultation information to the inspection staff, it is expected that employers will cooperate broadly with the recommendations of the consultants and achieve compliance with the job safety and health law voluntarily.

Any conditions of IMMINENT DANGER identified by the consultant must be resolved immediately. Such conditions are rare, but if they are found during an on-site consultation visit, you must take immediate corrective action. Please note that if immediate action is not taken, OSHA requires that the consultant immediately notify his or her supervisor so that appropriate enforcement action can be taken as prescribed by regulation. The agreement between OSHA and the state to provide on-site consultation also requires the consultant to ensure that any 'serious' hazards be eliminated. These are hazards from which it is reasonably predictable that death or serious physical harm could result. When a consultant finds such a situation, he or she must notify you and give you a reasonable length of time in which to effectively control or eliminate the hazard. The consultant is required to work with you and to help you develop a plan and a timetable for correction.

If, at the end of the agreed upon period, or an agreed upon extension of time, the consultant is not satisfied that proper action has been taken, he or she must notify the consultant supervisor, who will take appropriate action as described above.

These are the only occasions when such information may be referred from the consultation staff to an enforcement office. You can see that it would be deliberate inaction on the part of the owner/manager in an imminent/serious danger situation which would force the consultant to initiate this action. We have found that this situation only arises in rare circumstances. The employer who requests consultation demonstrates an interest in having a safe and healthful workplace. We are confident that the employer will not ignore the advice of a professional when warned of such hazardous conditions.

All of this will be discussed when you call the state agency which provides on-site consultation. At that point, you can decide whether or not to proceed with the consultation request. If you decide against it, which we hope you will not do, you can request that the consultant send you any special materials pertaining to your workplace conditions. You should read and implement these on your own, or with continued telephone contact. Either way, it will be worth the call.

Phone OSHA for the nearest OSHA-funded consultation service at (202) 219-8151.


Workers Compensation Carriers and Other Insurance Companies

Many Workers Compensation carriers as well as many Liability and Fire insurance companies conduct periodic inspections and visits to evaluate safety and health hazards. Managers of small and medium sized businesses need to know what services are available from these sources. Contact your carrier and see what it has to offer.

Trade Associations and Employer Groups

Because of the increase in job safety and health awareness resulting from OSHA activities, many trade associations and employer groups have put a new emphasis on safety and health matters to better serve their members. If you are a member of such a group, find out how it is assisting its members. If you are not a member, find out if these groups are circulating their materials to nonmembers, as many do.

Trade Unions and Employee Groups

If your employees are organized, set up some communications, as you do in normal labor relations, to get coordinated action on hazards in your business. Safety and health is one area where advance planning will produce action on common goals. Many trade unions have safety and health expertise that they are willing to share.

The National Safety Council and Local Chapters

The National Safety Council has a broad range of information services available. If you have a local chapter of the NSC, you can call or visit to see how you can use materials pertaining to your business. If there is no chapter nearby, you can write:

National Safety Council

1121 Spring Lake Drive

Itasca, IL 60143-3201

Voluntary Protection Programs Participants Association (VPPPA)

The VPPPA has members in most states where the federal OSHA program operates. The VPPPA is willing to provide information and outreach to help worksites improve their safety and health programs. Chapters of the National Association have been formed in several of the OSHA regions. Members of these chapters are also willing to provide the kind of assistance provided by the national organization. Your OSHA Regional Office will be able to provide you with the address and telephone number of the chapter in your region. To contact the VPPPA national organization, please write to the following address requesting the address and telephone number of the association:

Department of Labor - OSHA

Division of Voluntary Programs

Room N-3700

200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20210


The following Professional Associations are an additional resource that may be able to provide assistance to you:

American Society of Safety Engineers

850 Busse Highway

Park Ridge, Illinois 60068

American Industrial Hygiene Association

P.O. Box 8390

345 White Pond Drive

Akron, Ohio 44320

American Conference of Governmental Industrial


6500 Glenway Avenue, Bldg. D-7

Cincinnati, Ohio 45211 4438


Talk to your local doctors or clinics and see if one of them will advise you on workplace medical matters on a consulting basis.

You can contact your local Red Cross Chapter for assistance in first-aid training. If you cannot locate a local chapter, write:

American National Red Cross

National Headquarters

Safety Programs

18th and E Streets, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20006


Many local or university libraries contain information on specific safety and health subjects pertaining to your business.

These materials are usually in reference rooms or technical subject areas. Ask your librarian what is available. The library may be able to obtain material for you, through inter-library loan, purchase, etc.

Two basic publications of the National Safety Council will give you many sources of technical information. The ACCIDENT PREVENTION MANUAL FOR INDUSTRIAL OPERATIONS is a basic reference book for all safety and health work. The second, FUNDAMENTALS OF INDUSTRIAL HYGIENE, contains excellent information on toxic materials and recommended health and hygiene practices. Both of these references have other sources listed at the end of each chapter that may help you in solving specific problems.


Local Area Offices

The following is a list of addresses and telephone numbers of OSHA Area Offices. These offices are sources of information, publications, and assistance in understanding the requirements of the standards.

They can furnish you the basic publications you need:

  1. Job Safety and Health Protection (the OSHA workplace poster).
  2. The OSHA record-keeping requirements.
  3. A copy of the appropriate set of standards.
  4. A large selection of publications concerned with safe work practices, control of hazardous substances, employer and employee rights and responsibilities, and other subjects.

Feel free to contact these offices by phone, by mail or in person, without fear of triggering an inspection. However, if you request OSHA compliance personnel to visit your place of business, they are required to issue citations if a violation of an OSHA standard is observed. (We suggest you request a consultation visit instead.) Call OSHA's headquarters at (202) 219-8151 for inspection information in your area.


The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act encourages each state to assume the fullest responsibility for the administration and enforcement of occupational safety and health programs. For example, federal law permits any state to assert jurisdiction, under state law, over any occupational safety or health standard not covered by a federal standard.

In addition, any state may assume responsibility for the development and enforcement of its own occupational safety and health standards for those areas now covered by federal standards. However, the state must first submit a plan for approval by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Many states have done so.

Certain states are now operating under approved state plans. These states may have adopted the existing federal standards or may have developed their own standards. Some states also have changed the required poster. You need to know whether you are covered by state plan operations, or are subject to the federal program, to determine which set of standards and regulations (federal or state) apply to you. The easiest way to determine this is to call the nearest OSHA Area Office.

If you are subject to state enforcement, the OSHA Area Office will explain this or whether the state is using the federal standards, and provide you with information on the poster and OSHA record-keeping requirements. The OSHA Area Office will also refer you to the appropriate state government office for further assistance.

This assistance also may include the free on-site consultation visits described earlier. If you are subject to state enforcement, you should also take advantage of this service.


The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 clearly states our common goal of safe and healthful working conditions. The safety and health of our employees continues to be the first consideration in the operation of this business.

Safety and health in our business must be a part of every operation. Without question it is every employee's responsibility at all levels.

It is the intent of this company to comply with all laws. To do this we must constantly be aware of conditions in all work areas that can produce injuries. No employee is required to work at a job he or she knows is not safe or healthful. Your cooperation in detecting hazards and, in turn, controlling them is a condition of your employment. Inform your supervisor immediately of any situation beyond your ability or authority to correct.

The personal safety and health of each employee of this company is of primary importance. The prevention of occupationally-induced injuries and illnesses is of such consequence that it will be given precedence over operating productivity whenever necessary. To the greatest degree possible, management will provide all mechanical and physical facilities required for personal safety and health in keeping with the highest standards.

We will maintain a safety and health program conforming to the best practices of organizations of this type. To be successful, such a program must embody the proper attitudes toward injury and illness prevention on the part of supervisors and employees. It also requires cooperation in all safety and health matters, not only between supervisor and employee, but also between each employee and his or her coworkers. Only through such a cooperative effort can a safety program in the best interest of all be established and preserved.

Our objective is a safety and health program that will reduce the number of injuries and illnesses to an absolute minimum, not merely in keeping with, but surpassing, the best experience of operations similar to ours. Our goal is zero accidents and injuries.

Our safety and health program will include:

  • Providing mechanical and physical safeguards to the maximum extent possible.
  • Conducting a program of safety and health inspections to find and eliminate unsafe working conditions or practices, to control health hazards, and to comply fully with the safety and health standards for every job.
  • Training all employees in good safety and health practices.
  • Providing necessary personal protective equipment and instructions for its use and care.
  • Developing and enforcing safety and health rules and requiring that employees cooperate with these rules as a condition of employment.
  • Investigating, promptly and thoroughly, every accident to find out what caused it and to correct the problem so that it won't happen again.
  • Setting up a system of recognition and awards for outstanding safety service or performance.

We recognize that the responsibilities for safety and health are shared:

  • The employer accepts the responsibility for leadership of the safety and health program, for its effectiveness and improvement, and for providing the safeguards required to ensure safe conditions.
  • Supervisors are responsible for developing the proper attitudes toward safety and health in themselves and in those they supervise, and for ensuring that all operations are performed with the utmost regard for the safety and health of all personnel involved, including themselves.
  • Employees are responsible for wholehearted, genuine operation with all aspects of the safety and health program including compliance with all rules and regulation-and for continuously practicing safety while performing their duties.


This is a suggested code. It is general in nature and inclusive of many types of small business activities. It is intended only as a model which you can redraft to describe your own particular work environment.


1. All employees of this firm shall follow these safe practices rules, render every possible aid to safe operations, and report all unsafe conditions or practices to the supervisor/employer.

2. Supervisors shall insist that employees observe and obey every rule, regulation and order necessary to the safe conduct of the work, and shall take such action necessary to obtain compliance.

3. All employees shall be given frequent accident prevention instructions.

Instructions, practice drills and articles concerning workplace safety and health shall be given at least once every working days.

4. Anyone known to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs shall not be allowed on the job while in that condition. Persons with symptoms of alcohol and/or drug abuse are encouraged to discuss personal or work-related problems with the supervisor/employer.

5. No one shall knowingly be permitted or required to work while his or her ability or alertness is impaired by fatigue, illness or other causes that might expose the individual or others to injury.

6. Employees should be alert to see that all guards and other protective devices are in proper places and adjusted, and shall report deficiencies. Approved protective equipment shall be worn in specified work areas.

7. Horseplay, scuffling, and other acts which tend to endanger the safety or well-being of employees are prohibited.

8. Work shall be well planned and supervised to prevent injuries when working with equipment and handling heavy materials. When heavy objects, employees should bend their knees and use the large muscles of the leg instead of the smaller muscles of the back. Back injuries are the most frequent and often the most persistent and painful type of workplace injury.

9. Workers shall not handle or tamper with any electrical equipment, machinery, or air or water lines in a manner not within the scope of their duties, unless they have received instructions from their supervisor/employer.

10. All injuries shall be reported promptly to the supervisor/employer so that arrangements can be made for medical and/or first-aid treatment. All workers should know where to find first-aid materials, emergency, fire, ambulance, rescue squad, and doctor's telephone numbers, and fire extinguishers.


Do not throw material, tools or other objects from heights (whether structures or buildings) until proper precautions are taken to protect others from the falling object hazard.

Wash thoroughly after handling injurious or poisonous substances.

Gasoline shall not be used for cleaning purposes.

Arrange work so that you are able to face ladder and use both hands while climbing.


Keep faces of hammers in good condition to avoid flying nails and bruised fingers.

Files shall be equipped with handles; never use a file as a punch or pry.

Do not use a screwdriver as a chisel.

Do not lift or lower portable electric tools by the power cords; use a rope. Do not leave the cords of these tools where cars or trucks will run over them.


Do not attempt to operate machinery or equipment without special permission. unless it is one of your regular duties.

Loose or frayed clothing, dangling ties, finger rings, etc., must not be worn around moving machinery or other places they can get caught.

Machinery shall not be repaired or adjusted while in operation.


OSHA has four separate sets of standards: General Industry (29 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 1910), Construction (29 CFR 1926), Maritime Employment (29 CFR 1915-1919), and Agriculture (29 CFR 1928). OSHA has regulations on posting and other administrative matters in 29 CFR 1903, and on recording and reporting of injuries and illnesses in 29 CFR 1904.

The OSH Act also has a general duty clause, section 5(a)(1), 29 U.S.C.

654(b)(1), which provides that

(a) Each employer . . .

(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

A recognized hazard is a danger recognized by the employer's industry or industry in general, by the employer, or by common sense. The general duty clause does not apply if there is an OSHA standard dealing with the hazard, unless the employer knows that the standard does not adequately address the hazard.

If you have any problems determining whether a standard is applicable to your workplace, you may contact the nearest OSHA Area Office for assistance. Staff there should be able to answer any questions you may have about standards, as well as give you general guidelines on methods of implementing them in your workplace.


The Small Business Administration (SBA) is authorized to make loans to assist small businesses to meet OSHA standards. Because SBA's definition of a 'small' business varies f

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