Monday, July 1, 2013

Ten Most Unique, Interesting, and Quirky OSHA Standards from State Plan Programs

July 4th is here, and America is celebrating her 237th birthday this year. And in spite of her faults, there is not a day goes by that I don’t say thanks to my maker for allowing me to be born and raised in the greatest country in the world. One of the benefits of being an OSHA trainer / consultant is that my line of work has allowed me to travel to each one of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. And I’ve found that there is something interesting or unique about each and every one of them; except for Kansas (sorry Jayhawks, but there is absolutely nothing about mile after mile of wheat fields that excites me).
You are probably aware that about half of the states and territories administer an approved State Plan OSHA Program, which means they have one or more OSHA standards that are unique to their state (one requiring a state OSHA poster, at a minimum). And a few states have added their own “twist” to some of the Federal OSHA standards. Since I have conducted training and/or mock-OSHA inspections in all of the states, I have learned about many of those unique and different state rules (sometimes the hard way). So this month, I thought I would share with you (in no particular order) what I consider to be some of the most unique, interesting, and/or quirky safety and health standards I’ve run across in various State Plan OSHA programs over the years:

In the Wolverine state, rule 5815 (2) – (7) requires the operator of an aerial work platform (boom-lift . . .) to carry (or have available at the job site) an operators permit, issued by their employer, for the specific type lift they are utilizing. That permit is valid only while performing work for the issuing employer, and expires after three (3) years, at which time it must be re-issued. Federal OSHA has no operator’s permit requirement . . .
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  1. MIOSHA has an option for connectors to ride the headache ball...,4601,7-154-61256_11407-305869--,00.html

    Paul J Miller, CSP

  2. My favorite is the requirement for a "firefighter-type axe" in cold storage rooms in California - I think the exposure for workplace violence is much greater than being trapped in a cooler and using an axe to chop your way out!

    Cold Storage – Process and Manufacturing Rooms:

    (c) A firefighter's-type axe shall be kept in the room near the door.
    2. Door(s) installed in a manner that will prevent the door from freezing shut (i.e. designed with a heated seal).
    3. Cold storage, processing, and manufacturing rooms where temperatures are maintained above 32 degrees F or 0 degrees C.

    NOTE: A cold storage space or box is a room used for the preservation of substances by controlled temperatures. A cold processing or manufacturing room is an enclosed space or room in which products are treated, processed or manufactured in temperatures at or less than 32 degrees F or 0 degrees C.

    1. What is a "firefighter-type axe"? I'm a retired fire chief, author, and state instructor, and I have never heard that term. Pick-head axe? Flat head axe? Sounds like something a sales company would use to increase price.

      Stay safe all!

  3. Very interesting as all your blog posts are! I thought, though, that one of the requirements of a state run OSHA was that it had to be at least as protective as Federal OSHA. A couple of these seem to swing the other direction. Suprisingly California is one of them. What gives?

    Tim Fetters, CSP

    1. Tim,

      It is true that the state standards must be equal to or more protective than the equivalent federal standard, and I too have noticed there are several state OSHA standards that do not seem to measure up. I've even considered writing a blog post on some examples (perhaps in the future I will). If anyone has any insight into how this can be, I would certainly appreciate them enlightening us all.

  4. MI-OSHA also has some medical and physical capability requirements for PIT operators, of which I wonder how they enforce them without a conflict with Federal ADA matters. I only wish the Fed's had this kind of specifics in 1910.178, although there would be far fewer "approved" drivers!
    R 408.12151. Operator selection.
    Rule 2151. (1) An employer shall assure that an employee assigned to operate a powered industrial truck shall meet the following minimum requirements, except as
    noted in subrule (3) of this rule:
    (a) Have corrected vision that meets the same requirements as those for a valid Michigan driver’s license. Evidence of meeting this requirement shall be a Michigan
    driver’s license or a doctor’s certificate.
    (b) Have effective use of all 4 limbs, unless the powered industrial truck has been modified, as prescribed in R 408.12132, to permit operation with fewer than 4
    limbs. A prosthetic device is considered a limb when capable of being used to effectively operate the controls.
    (c) Be of a height sufficient to operate the controls and have an unobstructed view over the controls and dashboard.
    (d) Have coordination between eyes, hands, and feet.
    (e) Have freedom from known convulsive disorders and episodes of unconsciousness for a period of 1 year before obtaining a powered industrial truck operator’s permit or a lesser time with the assurance from a neurologist that the disorders or episodes are under control.
    (f) Have the ability to understand signs, labels, and instructions.
    (2) An employer shall assure that an employee assigned to operate a powered industrial truck shall meet the minimum requirements stated in this rule and shall be retested not less than every 3 years.
    (3) Requirements listed in subdivisions (b) and (c) of subrule (1) of this rule and of subrule (2) of this rule are optional for operators of a motorized hand low lift truck.
    (4) An employee who was operating a powered industrial truck before November 9, 1972, but does not meet the requirements of subdivisions (a), (b), (c), and (d) of subrule (1) of this rule and of subrule (2) of this rule, may be continued as an operator if the handicap or inability does not prove detrimental to the assigned task.
    - Bryan Haywood

    1. Actually the rule was amended May 29th of this year. The physical requirements no longer apply.

    2. Brian,

      Another reader just sent me this update:

      "Actually the rule for PIT operators was amended May 29th of this year. The physical requirements no longer apply."

  5. You should look at State government rules for state employees. Many of those without a state OSHA plan have astutely no rules. I heard Colorado had a executive order that they will only try to be safe, in so many words.

  6. Hi Curtis - great blog! How 'bout States that REQUIRE a Safety Committee? NH and CT have these requirements. State compliance officers inspect and ask for a mission statement or charter for the committee, copies of minutes, majority of employee participation, etc. PA has a certification process in place for Safety Committees where if your site achieves certification you can get a discount on your wc premium. Might be a good future blog discussion.

    Signed - The Safety Cowboy

  7. Curtis, thanks for all your great blogs! I was just scanning thru the various topics and came across this one while researching an interesting statement made by a South Carolina DLLR Safety Consultant during a recent voluntary compliance inspection. He had hollered up at one of our masons laying brick on a scaffold and asked if he had on steel toe boots, to which the mason replied in the affirmative. The inspector said "Good, because it is a SC law that masons have to wear steel toe boots."
    Wanting to get some clarification from him on this I asked him what standard a non-compliant employer would be cited under. He said it would be either under 1910.136(a) or the General Duty Clause 5(a)(1).
    In researching this I could not find any more specific or separate SC law for safety footwear for masons. The SC standards have been adopted largely verbatim from the Federal standards and he was correct that the law would likely be interpreted to include workers in the masonry trade working with materials that pose a hazard of foot injury. At the same time, he may have been doing other trades a disservice by not including them in the scope of what the SC law requires in the way of foot protection.
    I'm sure that OSHA inspectors make outrageous statements every day, but this one seemed particularly misguided. I was wondering if you or any of your followers have come across this issue before or know any other footwear requirements that we need to be aware of?


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