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Summary of OSHA Requirements


Virtually all employers, except those governed by OSHA- approved state occupational safety and health plan.  State plans generally cover all employers and employees within an affected industrial, occupational, or hazard grouping; employers excluded for good cause from state plans are covered under the federal OSH Act.


Employers cannot discharge or otherwise discriminate against employees for exercising their rights under the act.


Employers may apply for variances - that is, exceptions to the rule, standard or regulation - in the following circumstances:

  • When an employer does not have enough time or personnel to comply with a standard by its effective date
  • When an employer’s practices or conditions, although different from the federal requirements, are as safe and healthy as those required by the federal standard
  • If an employer needs a variance to participate in an approved work safety or health experiment
  • If compliance would seriously impair national defense.


Employers must comply with OSHA standards and the general duty clause.  The general duty clause entitles employees to work environments and assignments free from hazards recognized as causing or likely to cause serious harm or death.  OSHA standards include initial, permanent, and emergency temporary standards.

Employees also must “comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders” that apply to workers.


Recordable cases: Employers with 11 or more employees must record the following:

  • Fatalities, regardless of the time between injury and death
  • Lost workday cases, other then fatalities, where occupational injury or illness has caused the employee to miss work.
  • Nonfatal cases without lost workdays that (1) result in transfer to another job or termination of employment, (2) require medical treatment beyond first aid, (3) involve loss of consciousness or restriction of work or motion, or (4) are diagnosed illnesses reported to the employer but not classified as fatalities or lost workday cases.  Required forms: Employers with 11 or more employees must maintain the following forms:
  • OSHA Form 300: Log and Summary of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses is used to document recordable occupational injuries/illnesses within six workdays after discovery of the incident and must be maintained on a calendar (Jan1- Dec 31) basis.
  • OSHA Form 301: Supplemental Record of Occupational Injuries/Illnesses provide detailed information on the recordable incidents and must be available for inspection within six workdays of discovering the incident.  Employers may substitute workers’ compensation, insurance, or similar forms if it contains all information required by OSHA or if the employer adds the missing information. How long to keep records: Employee medical records, if maintained, must be kept for duration of employee’s tenure with the company, plus 30 years.  Employee exposure records, if maintained must be kept for at least 30 years.


All Employers: Employers must report all job accidents causing an employee’s death or hospitalization of three or more employees.  The employer must make this report, by phone or in person, to the OSHA area director within 8 hours of the accident.  The employer can also use the OSHA toll-free central number (800 321-OSHA)

Selected Employers: Employers selected to participate in a statistical report program or period surveys of occupational injuries/illnesses must submit required data and forms.


OSHA Poster: must be posted in the workplace in whatever space is normally reserved for employee notice.  OSHA Form 300A: must be conspicuously posted from Feb. 1, to March 1 of each year.  OSHA Citations: must be posted for three days or until violation is abated whichever is longer, at or near each place a violation has occurred or where the citation(s) is visible.
Petition for standard record keeping variances: Employers must post summaries for petitions for variances from OSHA standards or record keeping requirements.  Petition for modification of abatement: Employers must post for 10 days a copy of petitions for modification of abatement.

Other Comm.

Employers must notify employee representatives of inspections when given advance notice.  With permission OSHA may contact representatives directly.

Employers must give affected employees and their representatives a copy of petitions for modification of abatement or variances from record keeping or standards.  At job hire and annual after hire, employees must be told where medical and exposure records are kept, who is responsible for keeping and providing access to those records, and what rights of access to these records employees have.  Employers must give employees or representatives copies of exposure or medical records within 15 workdays of the request.


Civil: Up to $7000 fine for each non-serious and serious violation; up to $70,000 for each willful or repeat violation Criminal: Up to $10,000 fine and six months in jail for first offense in which an employer’s willful safety violation causes an employee’s death; up to $20,000 and one year in jail for the second offense.

Enforcement and Administration

OSHA can enter and inspect any workplace by the OSH Act, with or without advance notice to the employer.  However, inspections must take place “at reasonable times, within reasonable limits, and in a reasonable manner.”  OSHA generally chooses to inspect a workplace based on the nature of the business, employee complaints, or random selection.  OSHA also can request the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, to inspect a workplace for environmental hazards.

Category:Legal Considerations


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