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Introduction to OSHA Online Courses

Introduction to OSHA Courses for Safety Managers, Supervisors & Workers

Understanding who OSHA is and how they operate, as well as the rights of employees and employers under the OSH Act of 1970, is one of keys to having a successful safety and health program. These three introductory-level introduction to OSHA training courses provide students with the information needed to have an appropriate understanding of OSHA, depending on their current role in the company or organization. Print your personalized training certification for your introduction to OSHA training course upon successful completion of these courses.

Introduction to OSHA employees basic

Online Introduction to OSHA Course for Entry Level Employees

Only $9.99

Introduction to OSHA supervisors intermediate

Online Introduction to OSHA Course for Supervisors & Managers

Only $19.99

Introduction to OSHA safety managers advanced

Online Introduction to OSHA Course for Safety Personnel

Only $39.99

OVERVIEW OF INTRODUCTION TO OSHA COURSES

The basic introduction to OSHA course is ideal for entry-level employees. It explains the rights and protections afforded to workers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. This includes the employees right to file a complaint with OSHA about unresolved safety or health hazards in the workplace, as well as Whistle-blower protection. It also covers resources available to workers to help them better understand and avoid hazards at the workplace.

The intermediate introduction to OSHA course is designed to educate supervisors and managers with about everything covered in the basic course for workers, and then expands into additional information about how their actions, and in-actions, have an impact on the classification of violations and monetary penalties that accompany OSHA citations. The course also discusses employer rights to participate in an on-site inspection, to limit the scope of an OSHA inspection, and to have an employer representative present when OSHA interviews supervisors and managers.

The advanced introduction to OSHA course for safety personnel will benefit safety managers and safety directors, as well as others who are responsible for helping implement and manage their employer’s safety and health program. Also ideal for students of occupational safety and health, as well as union safety reps and business owners. In addition to covering everything covered in the basic and intermediate courses above, it also provides information so the student can understand employer rights to manage an OSHA inspection, such as how and when to limit the scope of an OSHA inspection, pros and cons of telling OSHA to get a warrant to conduct an inspection at your site, and factors that are used to calculate monetary penalties so the information can be used to your advantage when attempting to settle OSHA citations and penalties. It also discusses OSHA letters of interpretation and directives, horizontal and vertical OSHA standards, and resources available from OSHA to assist safety personnel / employers with their safety and health program.

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ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ'S) ABOUT OSHA

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about OSHA, provided by a OSHA Expert with extensive experience, training, and education in OSHA compliance matters. The information provided in this section is for GENERAL INFORMATIONAL purposes only, and is NOT TO BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. Employers and others reading this information are advised to contact their attorney or other legal advisor for professional guidance, if needed, about the topics discussed below.

 

The acronym “OSHA” stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The mission of OSHA is to save lives, prevent injuries, and protect the health of America’s workers. This is achieved through their various efforts, including the development of health and safety standards, conducting enforcement inspections, and offering compliance assistance and training resources for employers and workers.

OSHA was created when the United States Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, or OSH Act, of 1970. The legislation was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon in December of 1970, and the law took effect in April of 1971. The Act was officially titled “The Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970″, named after the two lawmakers who took the lead in the introduction of this legislation.

The OSH Act, and therefore OSHA coverage, applies to private sector employers located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and each of the United States territories (Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Wake Island, Johnston Island, and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands).

However, coverage of the OSH Act does NOT extend to all employers and employees in all workplaces. For example, the Act does not apply to self-employed persons, since they do not employ anyone, nor to farms which employ only immediate members of the farmer’s family. And since the Act only applies to private sector employers, State and local governments are not covered, unless they are covered by a “State Plan” OSHA program, which will be discussed in a later question.

The OSH Act did not originally apply to Federal agencies, although they do now have limited coverage required by an Executive order issued in 1980. Also exempted from coverage by the OSH Act are workplaces for which other Federal agencies, operating under the authority of other Federal laws, regulate worker safety; for example, mining (which is covered by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, nuclear energy and nuclear weapons manufacturing, which are both covered by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, and certain parts of several transportation industries, which are regulated by the US Department of Transportation, or DOT, the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, regulated under EM-385-1-1, and The Federal Railroad Administration, or FRA.

When Congress wrote the OSH Act, they wanted to encourage states and U.S. territories to provide for the safety of their public employees. So, they gave all states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories an option; be regulated by Federal OSHA with only private employers subject to compliance with Federal regulations and inspections, or develop a State OSHA program. When a state decides to develop their own State Plan OSHA program, that program is partially funded by Federal OSHA.

A State or territory that adopts a State Plan OSHA program must assume some level of responsibility for worker health & safety within their state. Most State Plan programs cover Private and Public sector workplaces, while others States have opted to cover only the Public sector, with Federal OSHA retaining coverage of the Private sector. But in all cases, Federal OSHA always retains jurisdiction of all Federal workers within that state, as well as the U.S. Postal system, all maritime operations, and certain non-military activities on domestic military bases.

To qualify to run a State Plan OSHA program, the state must adopt or develop health and safety standards that are at least as effective, or even more effective, than Federal OSHA standards. After making application to run a state-run OSHA program, Federal OSHA will evaluate the State’s application, and if it meets their requirements, they will approve the State program. Federal OSHA will also continue to monitors the State-run programs. OSHA will, and have, revoked a State program when it determines it does not maintain compliance with Federal requirements.

Here is a link on the Federal OSHA website listing information about those states and territories opting to adopt and administer their own State Plan Program.

The OSH Act sets the tone for responsibility of workplace safety by stating that workers have the right to a safe and healthful workplace, but that it is ultimately the employer’s responsibility to provide that safe and healthful workplace. That is why when OSHA determines there is a violation of their standards in the workplace, it is always the employer who receives the citation and penalty, and never the employee.

However, Congress did include a paragraph in section 5 of the OSH Act of 1970 regarding employee responsibility for their own safety and health, stating that “Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct.”

Federal OSHA has developed many different health and safety standards over the years, which are codified in a CFR, or Code of Federal Regulations. Some apply to all (or most) regulated businesses and workplaces, whereas others may apply only to specific types of workplaces or work activities.

Since OSHA is part of the U.S. Dept. of Labor, their standards are found in the 29th code of federal regulations. CFR 29 is broken into “Parts”, some of which contain the Federal OSHA standards. For example, Part 1903 contains the standards related to OSHA Inspections, Citations, and Penalties, while Part 1904 has the rules for Injury & illness recordkeeping, and reporting of fatalities and certain injuries and illnesses to OSHA. Part 1910 contains the rules for General Industry, which pertain to most regulated workplaces. Parts 1915 through 1918, OSHA has special standards applicable only to the various Maritime Industries, such as ship building and ship breaking, maritime terminals, and longshoring operations. Part 1926 contain the rules for Construction work. This includes new construction projects, as well as major renovation and repair work and demolition operations. And Part 1928 has a few special standards applicable only to Agricultural operations.

Most State Plan programs adopt the Federal OSHA standards verbatim, whereas a few of them do make state-specific tweaks or additions to supplement the Federal OSHA rules. And in a few cases, a State Plan Program will create State health and safety standards that are substantially different (and usually more protective) than those of Federal OSHA. And of course, all workplaces covered by a State Plan Program must display the OSHA Workplace Notification Poster specific to their State in their establishments, whereas those workplaces covered by Federal OSHA must display the Federal OSHA Workplace Notification Poster.

Be aware that there are two general categories of OSHA standards. Most OSHA standards are categorized as horizontal standards, which apply to the workplace in general. But there are also what are known as vertical standards, which only apply to very specific situations.

For example, Subpart L of the 1910 general industry standards contains the general, or horizontal, standards for the placement of portable fire extinguishers, including this horizontal rule requiring a portable fire extinguisher be located within 50 feet of travel wherever class B fire materials, which are flammable liquids, are present in the workplace.  However, Subpart H, titled hazardous materials, contains a vertical standard that requires a very specific type and size of portable fire extinguisher be placed no more than 10 feet from the outside of the door opening into any room specifically built for storage of flammable liquids.  And in Subpart N, which contains the rules for bridge cranes, gantry cranes, and mobile cranes used in general industry operations, you will find a different vertical standard requiring a specific type of portable fire extinguisher be placed in or near the operator cabs of these cranes.

Another example is the general, or horizontal rules for personal protective equipment, which are found in Subpart I of the 1910 general industry standards. While these standards apply to most workplace situations, there are other subparts of the general industry standards, such as subpart Q and subpart S, which also contain vertical standards for personal protective equipment to be used by workers performing specific tasks, such as protective hoods or shields used for welding, and non-conductive footwear for employees performing electrical work.

Therefore, it is very important not to stop researching OSHA standards if and when you locate a general, or horizontal rule that could theoretically be applied to your situation. Instead, you should always seek out any vertical rules that may exist which could apply specifically to your situation, as they will supersede the horizontal rule, where applicable.

In those cases, OSHA would expect the employer to comply with paragraph (5)(a)(1) of the OSH Act of 1970, also known as “The General Duty Clause”. The general duty clause states that “Employers must furnish a place of employment free from recognized hazards . . . “, with the operative term here being “recognized”. In other words, OSHA should not issue a citation to an employer just because they believe something is unsafe; but rather because there is something concrete to demonstrate that the hazard is, or should have been, recognized by the employer. Examples could include, but are not limited to; equipment & machinery safeguards installed by manufacturer; safety related instructions published in the operator’s manuals for a piece of equipment or machinery; and, safety-related instructions & warnings posted on a piece of equipment or machinery.

One example of a possible basis for a general duty clause violation could be safety protections recommended in voluntary consensus standards that have not been previously adopted as OSHA standards, and are not being followed.  For example, did you know that the current OSHA 1910 general industry standard for powered industrial trucks, or forklifts, does not actually include a specific standard requiring the installation or use of a seatbelt? That is because that standard was based on a voluntary consensus standard adopted back in the early ‘70’s, and that standard did not require seatbelt installation or use. However, that national consensus standard, ASME B56.1 – the Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks, has since been updated, and now requires that powered industrial trucks manufactured after 1992 must have a seatbelt or similar restraint system in place to reduce the risk of entrapment of the operator’s head or torso between the truck and ground in the event of a tip-over. Therefore, OSHA would expect an employer to enforce the use of a seatbelt by their employees who operate a forklift under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act.

There are many reasons that an OSHA compliance officer may to come to a worksite to conduct an inspection. The first reason, and typically their highest priority, if because they either personally witnessed, or received what they consider to be a credible report of, an imminent danger present in the workplace that could seriously injure or kill one or more employee. In this case, the compliance officer will typically instruct the employer to immediately remove exposed workers from the danger area until the hazard, or hazards, are abated.  While a compliance officer technically does not have the authority to “shut down” a workplace or work activity, they can go to a court to obtain a restraining order, if necessary, to compel the employer to take measures to protect exposed workers if they fail to comply with the compliance officer’s instructions. Therefore, employers should take the pronouncement of an imminent danger very seriously. 

The next type of inspection, and second in priority, are those conducted in response to incidents resulting in a worker fatality or hospitalization, commonly referred to as a Fat/Cat inspection. In most cases, any time an employee dies in a work-related incident, the employer must notify OSHA within 8 hours. And notification to Federal OSHA must be made within 24 hours any time an employee is actually admitted into a hospital due to a work-related incident, or if they suffer an amputation of any body part, or the loss of an eye due to a work-related incident. See 29 CFR 1904.39, or your equivalent State Plan OSHA standard, for more information about Federal and State OSHA Fat/Cat reporting requirements, including where and how to make these reports.

One of the most common reasons for OSHA to initiate an inspection is because they received an employee complaint about an alleged health or safety hazard in their workplace. The complaint can be filed by the employee, or filed on their behalf by their designated representative, for example their union representative or an attorney.  However, OSHA will keep the employee’s name and other identifying information private if the employee requests them to do so, so the employer may not know who actually filed the complaint.

There are generally two ways that OSHA will respond to an employee complaint. If the employee fills out, signs, and submits a written, formal complaint form, an OSHA compliance officer will typically be dispatched to the worksite to conduct an onsite inspection; If the compliance officer indicates the inspection is initiated due to an employee complaint, the employer should ask to be advised of the complaint item, or items, and then insist that the inspection be limited to the complaint item. In fact, the employer is entitled to receive a copy of the complaint form, which should list details of the items or items that make up the basis of the complaint, but with any information that could identify the complainant redacted to protect their identify; employers should obtain this information before the inspection is allowed to begin. And in those cases where the employee chooses not to file the written, signed report with OSHA, they may opt to conduct what is commonly referred to as an informal employee complaint inspection.  This usually consists of an OSHA compliance officer calling the employer to notify them that an employee or their representative reported a violative condition or conditions. The call is usually followed up with a fax, email, or letter from OSHA describing the specific alleged violations.  Then the employer has a predetermined amount of time, typically in the range of 3 to 5 working days, to reply back to OSHA, in writing, telling them if any of the violative conditions existed or not, and if so, what was done to abate the hazards.  OSHA also tells the employer that they reserve the right to conduct an onsite inspection of the complaint items if they do not receive a timely reply, or, to follow up and confirm the employer’s response is truthful.

Another category of inspections conducted by OSHA are called Referral inspections. These occur whenever OSHA receives a credible report of a possible violative condition that could seriously harm or kill a worker, or perhaps already did.   In some cases, these referral inspections come from within OSHA itself, in the form of an inner-agency referral. For instance, a compliance officer who specializes in safety hazards may have conducted an inspection at a workplace, and while they were on-site, they may have identified some potential health hazards; for example, unprotected workers being exposed to excessive levels of air contaminants or high noise levels for an extended period of time.  Since investigation of health hazards requires special expertise, the compliance officer may, upon returning to the Area office, alert their supervisor of the potential health hazard, who may then assign the referral to one of OSHA’s industrial hygienists to conduct a separate health inspection. 

Referrals are also generated by other federal or state agencies.  For example, OSHA has memorandums of understanding with other federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, also known as the EPA. Their inspectors are cross trained to be able to identify basic safety and health hazards that can affect employees as they conduct their environmental inspections, so that if any hazards are seen, they can alert OSHA, who will then send a compliance officer to the site inspect.  It is also common for hospital administrators to alert their local OSHA Area office, or equivalent State plan OSHA office, if a patient admitted into the hospital is found to have been injured in a work-related incident.

OSHA also conducts general scheduled inspections, as well as what are known as Targeted inspections. General scheduled inspections involve employers who operate in high-hazard industries with historically higher than average injury and illness rates. Companies and organizations falling in these categories are randomly selected by a computer program for a general inspection, which is typically comprehensive in nature; in fact, they are often referred to as wall-to-wall inspections.  As for Targeted inspections, these are typically aimed at industries with high-hazard operations involving a specific type of hazardous equipment or activity. For example, OSHA now has nationwide targeted emphasis programs to inspect employers whose workers operate mechanical press brakes, which present amputation hazards; those whose work involves exposure to silica, which can result in silicosis; and those involved with trenching and excavation activities, where cave-ins are a reoccurring problem. While general scheduled inspections are typically comprehensive in nature, the employer should request the scope of targeted inspections be restricted to the targeted hazards.

And one more type of inspection that OSHA compliance officers conduct, and which comes as a big surprise to many employers and other individuals, are Called Whistleblower inspections. Section 11(c) of the OSH Act of 1970 protects workers from retaliatory actions by their employers whenever the employee files a complaint with OSHA, as well as if they chose to speak to OSHA during an inspection. Whistleblower complaints can also be filed during cases where employees suffer retaliation whenever they report a variety of violations related to other types of Federal regulations not associated with workplace health and safety. If the employee files a complaint alleging retaliation by their employer, a special unit of OSHA is dispatched to conduct a Whistleblower inspection. 

It is possible that the compliance officer will find no evidence of a violation of any OSHA standards during their inspection. However, if they do find an alleged violation, the OSHA compliance officer must thoroughly document their information gathered during the inspection, and then draft a citation listing each alleged violation of their standards. Then they must determine how each alleged violation is to be classified. 

There are several types of OSHA violations. The classification used in about 75% of citations issued by OSHA is called a Serious violation. By definition, as serious violation exists when the workplace hazard identified during the inspection could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not, and could not with the exercise of reasonable diligence, know of the presence of the violation. 

The second category is classified as Other-than-serious violations.  This classification, which is issued second most often by OSHA, is used in situations where the injury or illness most likely to result from a hazardous condition would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

A Repeat violation can be cited any time the employer has been cited previously for the same, or, a substantially similar condition or hazard. There is no requirement that the previous and current violations occur at the same workplace or under the same supervisor. The previous violation could have occurred at any of the employer’s establishments located within the inspecting agency’s jurisdiction. For example, Federal OSHA can issue a repeat violation based on previous violations for the same or similar conditions issued to that employer during Federal OSHA inspections conducted any other establishments operated under Federal jurisdiction. And a State Plan OSHA program can issue a repeat violation to an employer if there was a previous violation for the same or similar condition at any of their work sites located within the same state. But neither can use previous violations that had been issued to an employer for the same or similar conditions during inspections conducted at one of their establishments located outside of their areas of jurisdiction as the basis for a repeat violation. Also, to qualify as a repeat violation, the previous citation must have become a final order within five years of the current inspection.

A Failure to abate citation will be issued when a previously cited hazardous condition, practice, or non-complying equipment has not been brought into compliance since the prior inspection, and is discovered at a later inspection. If, however, the previous violation was corrected, but later re-occurs, the subsequent occurrence is classified as a repeated violation, not a failure to abate violation

A Willful citation is issued whenever OSHA believes the employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the OSH Act, or a plain indifference to employee safety and health. Willful violations typically comprise fewer than one present of total violations issued by OSHA during a given year. One example of when a willful citation might be issued is when the employer was aware of the existence of unguarded power presses in their workplace that have caused near misses, lacerations and amputations in the past, and has done nothing to abate the hazard. A second example of when a willful violation might be issued is whenever an employer was issued repeated citations for the same or similar conditions, but did not take corrective action. 

Criminal Willful is a category covering any violation found to be willful, and which has caused or contributed to the death of an employee. These cases will be evaluated for potential criminal referral to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution.  In these cases, OSHA must prove that the employer violated an OSHA standard, the violation was willful in nature, and, the violation of the standard was the direct cause of, or a contributing factor to, an employee’s death.  In these criminal cases, which are rare, the employer or responsible supervisor can be personally fined, or even jailed, if found guilty in a criminal court.

Some minor violations are classified as De minimis when OSHA determines that an employer has implemented a measure different from one specified in a standard, but it has no direct or immediate relationship to employee safety or health. Deviations may involve, for example, distance specifications, construction material requirements, use of an incorrect color, minor variations from recordkeeping rules, or paperwork errors. Here is one example of a de minimis violation provided by OSHA: There is an OSHA ladder standard which allows up to a 12 inches maximum distance between ladder rungs. Where the rungs are found to be 12¼ inches apart, the condition may be considered de minimis. Instead of issuing a citation to an employer for a de minimis violation, OSHA typically issues a written notice to document the violation.

The final category of violation to be discussed is for Failure to Post Notices.  This occurs any time the employer is found to have failed to comply with an OSHA standard requiring them to post a specific notice; for example, the OSHA workplace poster discussed earlier. The employer could also be cited if they failed to post copies of any OSHA citations they received after an inspection in the workplace for a specified amount of time. Also, an employer can be cited, where applicable, if they do not post a copy of any OSHA notice of an employee complaint in the workplace near the area where the alleged violation exists.  In addition, affected employers are required to post a copy of their Annual Summary of Injuries and Illnesses (Form 300-A) in the workplace. This annual form must be completed, certified, and posted in an area where employee notices are typically displayed, by February 1st of following year, and must remain posted through April 30th.

Be aware that due to the additional work that must be done post-inspection, it typically takes Federal OSHA a matter of weeks, if not months, before citations are finally prepared and ready to deliver to the employer. However, they do have a statute of limitations that requires them to deliver the citation(s) to the employer within six months of their becoming aware of an apparent violation.

Each violation issued by OSHA can carry its own proposed monetary penalty.  Here are the maximum monetary penalties that Congress allows Federal OSHA to assess for each violation cited, as of January 13th, 2022. Please note that these maximum proposed penalties are adjusted each year for inflation.

Violations cited as serious can carry a maximum proposed penalty of $ 14,502 per violation. That same figure applies to each other-than-serious violation that is cited. In cases where the employer fails to abate a previous cited violation, the maximum proposed penalty can be $14,502 per day beyond the assigned abatement date, up to a 30-day maximum. Repeat violations can carry a much heftier penalty, up to 10 times greater ($145,027 per violation). That same figure applies to violations classified as willful.  And for failure to post violations (e.g.: OSHA workplace notification poster, copy of citations and abatement actions . . .), the maximum penalties for those varies according to the type of violation.

These figures represent the MAXIMUM monetary penalty that can be assessed for each violation under Federal OSHA guidelines; these maximum penalty amounts are typically adjusted down from these levels, based on various factors such as, but not limited to, the size of the employer, the numbers of employees exposed to a violative condition, the gravity of the safety or health hazard cited, and the employer’s past history with OSHA inspections and citations.

Contrary to popular belief, Federal OSHA is NOT self-funded. OSHA operates solely on an annual budget that is set and funded each year by Congress. When an employer sends in a check to cover any monetary penalties assessed after an inspection, they write the check out to The United States Treasury, and those monies are deposited into the general fund. So, Federal OSHA does not have any incentive to jack up the numbers of citations to increase money flowing into their agency, as that money does not come back to them.

Once received, the employer has 15 working days to respond to the citation in a variety of ways. Note the distinction of “Working Days” here. Those are defined by Federal OSHA as Monday through Friday, not including the day the citation was received by the employer. Working days also exclude Federal holidays.

The employer can accept the alleged violations as valid, as well as any proposed penalties and prescribed abatement dates, and the matter becomes a final order.  Or, they can request an informal conference at the OSHA Area Office from where the citations were issued. For this option, the employer must contact the Area Office to schedule an informal conference, and that meeting MUST take place within the 15-workday period from when any citations were received. And the employer must notify, in writing, affected employees and their reps of the scheduled conference so they can have an opportunity to attend if they wish.  The purpose of this informal conference is for all parties to try and negotiate a settlement without going to court. In some cases, specific violations, classifications, monetary penalties, and proposed abatement dates can be adjusted, or even withdrawn.  But all actions must occur withing the 15 work-day period.   Furthermore, neither OSHA or the employer are under any obligation to reach a settlement; they may just agree to disagree and handle resolution of the citation in a different manner.

Another option available to the employer is to contest all or part of the alleged violations, penalties, and abatement dates. To do so, the employer must present OSHA with a written letter of contest within the 15 work-day period. This can take place after any unsuccessful attempt to settle the case in an informal conference, or without even attempting resolution through an informal conference. In that letter, the employer must specify exactly what is being contested. It could be all cited violations, proposed penalties, and abatement dates, or just a portion of them.  Many employers engage their attorney to help prepare their letter of contest.  Once the letter of contest has been presented to OSHA, they will send their case file to their legal team, and the employer usually does the same with their attorney.  Eventually, the employer will be notified of hearing to be held in front of an Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ. OSHA’s case will be presented by a U.S. Department of Labor Solicitor, who acts as OSHA’s attorney, and the Employer is usually represented by their own attorney.  Both sides present their case to the ALJ.  Eventually, the AJL will issue his or her findings in a written decision, usually several months after the hearing has concluded.  The ALJ may decide to uphold, alter, or vacate some, or all, of the contested items

If either side is not satisfied with the ALJ’s decision, they have the option to file an appeal for all or part of it through the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC).  This commission, which consists of three commissioners appointed by the President to staggered six-year terms, will review the ALJ’s findings, read written briefs filed by both parties, debate the citations internally, and then vote on whether to uphold, vacate, or alter the contested items.  Due to backlogs, and delays in Senate confirmation hearings for nominated commissioners, this process can actually take several years to run its course.  And if the Employer or the DOL Solicitor is not satisfied with the Review Commission’s decision, either party may appeal all or part of that decision to the U.S. Courts of Appeal; and eventually to the United States Supreme Court.

Contest proceedings in States operating a State-plan OSHA program will be formatted similar to what has been described here, but it takes in their own State court system. So, check their websites to get official information on their process to resolve citations.

The standards cited most often by Federal OSHA vary from year to year, but not by much. Here are the most often cited OSHA standards for OSHA’s fiscal year 2021 (the most recent data available):

  1. Fall Protection (General Requirements) – These OSHA standards are found in section 1926.501 of the OSHA construction standards, and were cited a collective 5,295 times.
  2. Respiratory Protection – Found in 1910.134, these general industry standards were cited a total of 2,527 times.
  3. Ladders – Found in 1926.1053, the OSHA standards for ladders in construction were cited in 2,026 instances.
  4. Scaffolding – Found in 1926.451 of the construction standards, and which now apply to general industry too, there were 1,948 citations in all issued.
  5. Hazard Communication – Found in 1910.1200, these standards, which up until recently were the second most cited section year to year, were cited a total of 1,947 times.
  6. Lockout/Tagout (The Control of Hazardous Energy) – Found in 1910.147, these general industry standards were cited in 1,698 cases.
  7. Fall Protection – Training Requirements. Found in 1926.503, there were 1,666 instances where these fall protection training standards applicable to construction work were cited by OSHA.
  8. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment (Eye and Face Protection) – Found in 1926.102. There were 1,452 citations issued for violations of these construction standards.
  9. Powered Industrial Trucks – Found in 1910.178, these standards, which include requirements for forklift operator training and evaluation, were cited in 1,420 instances.
  10. Machine Guarding – Found in 1910.212, this group of general industry machine guarding standards netted a total of 1,113 citations.

There are many OSHA regulations requiring employers provide their employees with OSHA training, where applicable. We provide lists of Federal OSHA training requirements for general industry standards, construction standards, and administrative requirements, under the OSHA Training Requirements section of our website.

We also offer on-site OSHA training services for employers who have a group of employees in need of any one of several different OSHA training classes, as well as an extensive variety of online OSHA training courses they can take. These include OSHA 10-hour courses for construction or general industry, OSHA 30-hour training courses for construction or general industry, confined space training courses, and much more.

Want to Learn More? Click below to get more information about our online “Introduction to OSHA” courses.

Available in a Basic course for workers, and Intermediate course for supervisors, and an Advanced course for safety managers, safety committee members, business owners, and higher-level managers.

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