Friday, November 1, 2013

Five OSHA Standards That Really Don’t Exist!

As a safety consultant and OSHA Outreach trainer, I hear a lot of discussion about certain safety measures that some people mistakenly believe must be followed “because Federal OSHA standards require it”. While their intentions are good, many times they would be embarrassed if someone challenged them to put their money where their mouth is and find the particular standard to which they referred, because the standard they are referring to does not exist. So I decided this month I would draw on my past experiences and share some of these phantom regulations I run across often by presenting my list of Five OSHA Standards That Really Don’t Exist.

Seat Belts on Forklifts:  How many times have you heard someone state that forklift operators must wear their seat belt (a.k.a. an operator restraint system) because “it’s required in the OSHA standards”? While forklift . . .   

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26 comments:

  1. With regard to fall protection - how are companies dealing with meeting the standards for maintenance workers who have to work on HVAC units on flat roofs? I have a 300,000 SF roof with ten units up there that the guys access from roof hatches and I'm not certain how to fully comply with the standard for them.

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    1. Hello Gregg.

      Great question, I get asked this a lot during mock-OSHA inspections. Currently, Subpart D (walking/working surfaces) does not specifically address the topic of working on rooftops, so the default is currently the OSHA general industry standard that requires guardrails be installed if an employee is exposed to a fall of 4 feet or more (1910.23(c)(1)). However, OSHA has issued a draft revision of Subpart D (came out in May of 2010) where they address working on rooftops, and they offer several options, including the use of guardrails, fall arrest system, travel restraint system, and something called a "designated area"; that one seems to be custom made for your scenario. Federal OSHA's policy is to allow employers to comply with proposed federal rules without citing them for violating current reg's. So here is a link to that proposed rule: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-05-24/html/2010-10418.htm .

      Refer to proposed rule 1910.28 (duty to have fall protection, pg 29139 of that federal register), paragraph (b)(1) - titled "protection from fall hazards - Unprotected sides and edges" (pg 29140). Then scroll down to paragraph (1) to (I) to (vi) for the available options, which includes paragraph (ii), titled "designated area". Then go to paragraph 1910.29, titled "Fall protection systems criteria and practices" (page 29142), and slide down to paragraph (d)(1) through (4) (page 29143) to see the criteria for a "designated area" for use when doing temporary work such as rooftop unit maintenance. I know this a long, drawn out reply, but should get you headed in the right direction. Best wishes.

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  2. Nicely done. Thanks for the info, Curtis.
    - Howard

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  3. Hi Ya,

    Although I was aware of these 5 myths (and often discuss them), I congratulate you (seriously) for addressing them. I, too, have very often run into people who (so to speak) believed the myths. Thanks very much for this particular blog. I had never seen all of these addressed in the same article/blog.

    Rick

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  4. Mr. Chambers, my question concerns Bloodborne Pathogens. Is OSHA enforcing the bloodborne pathogen standard in the construction industry?

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    1. The scope and application section of the bloodborne pathogens standard specially states that it excludes the construction industry. However, OSHA has clarified in letters of interpretation that those employees engaged in construction activities who are occupationally exposed to the hazard of bloodborne pathogens (such as those workers designated as responsible for providing first aid or medical assistance) are afforded protection under several construction standards as well as the General Duty Clause.

      [29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2)] requires that the employer instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and in the regulations applicable to his or her work environment in order to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury. Under this provision, the employer is required to train designated first aid providers in the hazards of bloodborne pathogens.

      29 CFR 1926.25 requires that containers be provided for the collection and separation of waste. This includes containers for sharps and other regulated waste which may be generated from rendering medical assistance.

      29 CFR 1926.28 requires the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment in all operations where there is an exposure to hazardous conditions or where there is a need to use such equipment to reduce the hazards to employees. This includes the need to use gloves, gowns, masks, eye protectors, and/or resuscitation equipment when appropriate for rendering first aid or other medical assistance.

      Lastly, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHAct, which requires employers to furnish a workplace which is free from recognized hazards which may cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm, may be applied where appropriate to the construction industry. General duty clause citations must, of course, meet the requirements outlined in the Field Operations Manual, Chapter IV, and will be issued where there is a serious and recognized hazard which cannot be abated by implementing an abatement method required by the above standards. It is under the General Duty Clause that OSHA may require, where appropriate, the provision of the hepatitis B vaccine to those employees who have occupational exposure.

      Here is the link to one of those letters: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=INTERPRETATIONS&p_id=20998

      Hope this helps.

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  5. I am one of those people who was taught and believed in the training myths you discussed. Are there any other myths specific to training you would like to share? I currently do annual training on Hazcom, BBP, etc. and do not plan to change it, but I am also taking responsibility for a couple of new facilities and I will be having them do the same training I currently do at our facility and I don't want to say its an OSHA requirement if it isn't. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

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    1. The biggest misunderstandings I see regarding refresher training are related to the forklift operator training standard; you can read about that in another post to this blog (http://oshatrainingservices.blogspot.com/2012/07/osha-training-myths-busted-powered.html). For other standards, probably the easiest way to understand the requirements are to visit our website at look at the OSHA Training requirements tabs for construction and general industry (link to gen ind here: http://www.oshatraining.com/osha-general-industry-training-requirements.php). Here we list every section of any standard that has any reference to training (and underline that reference), including any refresher requirements. Then you get the information directly from the source, as opposed to through the grapevine. Hope this helps.

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  6. This is good to know. Thanks Curtis for your post! We are looking into having our next fall protection training for our new employees in just a couple of weeks.

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  7. Awesome blog post! I really enjoyed reading this content. Keep posting.

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  8. Great information Curtis. As a Consultant, I constantly deal with questions and comments based on misinformation or misunderstanding. You are right on target with these very common misconceptions. Keep up the great work!

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  9. I was familiar with 4 of the 5 (I always subscribe to if there's a ROPS, use a seatbelt), however in the interest of the tone of your article, here's one:

    CFR 1926 Subpart X Stairs & Ladders states:
    1926.1053(b)(21) Each employee shall use at least one hand to grasp the ladder when progressing up and/or down the ladder.
    1926.1053(b)(22) An employee shall not carry any object or load that could cause the employee to lose balance and fall.

    (I know this is heretical but) Sounds to me like one could be in compliance with the standard by carrying something light and not awkward in one hand while climbing a ladder... not that we teach it that way.

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  10. Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoy your emails / blog and that I learn a little something every time. Please keep it up! Albert.

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  11. I don’t agree.

    Seat Belts

    Are there any times when a driver does not have to wear a seatbelt?

    OSHA's current policy does not distinguish based on the number of stops. It requires that if seat belts are on the equipment, they must be used at all times while operating.

    Must we retrofit our powered industrial trucks with seatbelts if they were not manufactured with them?

    Federal OSHA's current enforcement policy on the use of seat belts on forklifts is that employers must require operators of forklifts that are equipped with operator restraint devices, including seat belts, to use the devices. In addition, OSHA may also cite employers who do not take advantage of a manufacturer operator restraint system or seat belt retrofit program. This is all explained in Federal OSHA's 10/09/1996 Seat Belt Policy (corrected in 2007). (Federal OSHA enforces the seat belt issue under the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act; there is not a specific regulation.)

    Michael Schmidt

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    1. Michael.

      First of all, thanks for taking the time to read the blog and comment. As far as your information submitted, can you show me in the federal OSHA standards where it actually states that? I know they have letters of interpretation and such stuff, but the whole point of this blog was not to say you should not wear a belt, it was to say that you would not find that actually stated in the CFR. Do you have any info to the contrary? Looking forward to your reply. Curtis

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    2. I am going to have to research that to get you chapter and verse. Much on my plate at the moment but give me a day or two. MS

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    3. Okay. Just send it on when you have found it, I'd sure like to see what you have. Thanks,

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  12. Thanks. Good stuff. Most people will argue that these really exist until you ask them for the "chapter and verse". Then they still say "Well, I know they are in there someplace." - Bob Wing

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    1. . . . Oh yeah, I forgot to mention in my earlier "thanks" that my favorite is that OSHA does not require annual LOTO training but some facilities do it instead of the required periodic inspection. Also I had one inspector tell me that if you didn't want your employees to use the fire extiguishers, you should train them not to. Not a bad idea. The same inspector told me never to charge employees for earplugs. He said I could discipline them, or even fire them, for losing ear plugs, but never charge them. - Bob

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  13. I also am a Safety Consultant and CSP and have practiced for 38 years. Most of my practice has been in the construction field. While I agree about the seat belt issue with forklifts, we cannot overlook the need for seat belts on equipment with ROPS. Most forklifts, at least all terrain vehicle types, are equipped with ROPS which does mandate seat belt use for their obvious protection from the hazard the ROPS present. S. Williams

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  14. I read your current blog with interest. The issue of fall protection while using a portable ladder in particular brought up the memory of a situation I encountered many years ago as the safety director of a specialty contractor. We were doing a project in the Dallas area where the GC's safety coordinator insisted that we use fall protection while working from ladders. Our ladders were set up immediately adjacent to the work where no overreach was required. When I questioned him he insisted that this was an OSHA requirement. He told me he had spoken with the Dallas area office and that was their position. I called that office and happened to reach the compliance officer he had talked to who confirmed the conversation. He could not however, lead me to chapter and verse. I called the North Houston office of Houston and spoke to a the area director who stated that this was not so citing what you have in your blog. I mentioned what the compliance officer in Dallas had said to me over the phone. He asked for the compliance officer's name which I gave him. Through other sources I heard that my called created a stir, to say the least, between the two offices. Had the GC's safety coordinator told me that this was their company policy I probably would have dropped the issue although with reluctance. But if you rely on the standards be ready to quote them. I have also erroneously referred to the standards in my past and have learned to say, "let me get back to you" and then research before I take a stand unless I am dead sure.

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  15. Regarding seatbelts on forklifts, OSHA began enforcing this as a PPE issue in the 1980s and won two landmark cases on the arguement that seatbelts were required PPE (Secy. v. Babbitt Logging and Secy. V. Adironack De-Icing). When John B. Miles headed up the Dir. of Compliance Services he, inexplicably after winning these battles with our tax dollars, directed CSHOs to use the General Duty Clause to enforce this. This arguement has no place in safety training. It only serves to kill employees and show that you think that you know more about administrative law than your students. Peter Noddin CSP

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    1. Peter.

      You obviously did not take the time to carefully read the entire blog, or you would have seen that A) I clarify that the use of seatbelts is enforced by OSHA using the general duty clause, and B) that I state that the whole gist of this particular blog post is not to get out of wearing a seatbelt, but rather to save those safety consultants and OSHA trainers who claim that this requirement is in the OSHA regulations the embarrassment of having to admit they are wrong. But thank you for your reply none the less.

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  16. I've been researching the standard belief/standard practice that all fixed guarding must be securely affixed, where the interpretation of affixed means "can only be removed with a tool", locking fasteners and wing nuts, prohibited. Though I can see no nothing in 1910.212, nor in letters of interpretation that say anything about required tool use in the removal fixed guarding. Yet under 1910.219(m) there is a letter of interpretation specific to guards on mechanical power transmission apparatus that says, "guards may be fastened by any secure method that prevents the guard from being inadvertently dislodged or removed, including, but not limited to , such means as screws, bolts, wing nuts and lock fasteners. Perhaps the requirements on power transmission apparatus is an exclusion from the general guarding requirement, but I can find no other reference either supporting or contradicting this contention. Is this another myth or have I missed something?

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  17. One word of caution regarding state OSHA plans. California requires seatbelts to be provided for all forklifts with ROPS, seat belt must be per SAE standard, user must be trained regarding seatbelt and use enforced. Title 8 GISO 3653
    https://www.dir.ca.gov/Title8/3653.html
    Jay Jamali, CSP Enviro Safetech

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  18. Like Jay above MN OSHA does require annual refresher training on hazard communication.

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