January 18, 2019 @ 4:10 PM

Regulations:  Where am I? by Jim Poesl

Sounds like a ridiculous premise doesn’t it? But it is critical with OSHA Compliance. Knowing which regulations apply to you not only helps protecting workers and mitigates risk, but also helps avoiding fines.  OSHA has several areas of regulations that apply to you. 

How to read a regulation

For example: A regulation is cited as 29CFR1910.1450(a)(2)(i)  Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories.

29:  The Title all Department of Labor Regulations are 29, EPA Regulations Start with 40.

CFR: Code of Federal Regulations

Part  1910: This tells you that it is in the General Industry Regulations, as opposed to Construction (1926), Maritime (1915,     1917, 1918), or Agriculture (1928)

1450:  That is the section, there are thousands of sections

(a) Paragraph 

(2) Subparagraph

(i)  Subparagraph.

What is Construction Work?

In a 2003 Letter of Interpretation OSHA states their policy and quotes their own regulation:  

Construction is defined as  "construction, alteration, and/or repair, including painting and decorating."1 Section 1910.12(a) further provides that OSHA's construction industry standards apply "to every employment and place of employment of every employee engaged in construction work."(Letter to Raymond V. Knobbs, November 18, 2003).  

Presumably if you are not doing construction work then you are doing “General Industry Work” unless your workplace meets the following:

1.    Shipyard (Part 1915.2(a)): Except where otherwise provided, the provisions of this part shall apply to all ship repairing, shipbuilding and shipbreaking employments and related employments.

2.    Marine Terminals (Part 1917.1(a)): “The regulations of this part apply to employment within a marine terminal as defined in § 1917.2, including the loading, unloading, movement or other handling of cargo, ship's stores or gear within the terminal or into or out of any land carrier, holding or consolidation area, any other activity within and associated with the overall operation and functions of the terminal, such as the use and routine maintenance of facilities and equipment. All cargo transfer accomplished with the use of shore-based material handling devices shall be regulated by this part.”  

3.   Longshoring (1918.1(a)The regulations of this part apply to longshoring operations and related employments aboard vessels. All cargo transfer accomplished with the use of shore-based material handling devices is covered by part 1917 of this chapter.

4.    Agriculture (1928): The regulations do not give a definition of agriculture but other government definitions commonly refer to  "farms as any land used to produce crops, livestock, specialty livestock, or grazing and include woodland and wasteland not under cultivation or used for pasture or grazing." According to some regulations a farm is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold during the census year (definitions.uslegal.com).

To further add confusion, if you are at an oil terminal, although it is a terminal, it is covered under General Industry or Construction regulations; The agriculture regulations incorporate several regulations from General Industry.

General Duty Clause

So “knowing where you are in the regulation” should direct you to which regulations apply to you.  But there is always the “General Duty Clause” from the Occupational Safety and Health Act:  

“(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;

(2)  Shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.

(b) 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.”

This is a “catch all” stating that you must protect your employees even if there is no OSHA Regulation.  It is enforced in several different ways, but usually if there is an incorporation of an industry standard the standard will reference it. 

Some food for thought:  Sometimes people unknowingly become construction workers while they are office workers.  That means that they must comply with construction regulations.  For example, you tell your administrative assistant to decorate for a holiday party.  They are covered under the construction regulation.  You hire “summer help” to paint an office, they are construction workers. If you are “abrasive blasting” for the purposes of inspection inside of a tank, you are covered by the “General Industry” Confined Space Entry Regulations.  But if you are “abrasive blasting” in that same tank to repaint it, now it is construction work covered by the Confined Space Entry Regulations for Construction that are substantially different.

Knowing where you are gives you a good starting point.  If you are not sure, contact JCP Technical Services and we can assist you in determining the  regulations that apply to you.  Call us at 201-984-5625 or email us at jim@safetywars.com.