Is Your Safety Manual OSHA Compliant? Explore the required topics


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A written safety manual is often seen as the backbone of a workplace safety program. These documented processes are powerful tools, helping to set expectations, train employees, bid and even avoid legal issues. What many people don’t know, however, is that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict guidelines regarding what topics should be included in a written safety program. Are You Sure Your Company’s Safety Manual Is OSHA Compliant?

Writing a safety manual that meets OSHA standards requires knowledge and research. Lucky for you, we’ve researched several references so you can quickly understand your business needs. Depending on your business category (construction, general industry, or both) read below to find out what topics are required and their corresponding OSHA standard – with clickable links.

1. Global requirements (regardless of sector)

Whether your business is categorized as “construction” or “general industry”, the following topics should be covered in your manual:

  • OSHA Record Keeping (OSHA 29 CFR 1904)
  • Hazard Communication (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.59 & 1200)
  • Emergency planning (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.35 & 38)
  • Fire prevention plan (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.150 & 39)
  • First aid (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.151 & 50)
  • Lockout / Tagout (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147, 333 and 417)
  • Personal protective equipment (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.132 & 1926 subpart E)
  • Hearing protection (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 & 101)
  • Crane / Lift Inspection Program (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.179, 184 and 251, 552)
  • Respiratory Protection Program (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134 & 103)
  • Motorized industrial forklift operator training (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.178 & 602 (d))

2. Requirements of the construction industry

If your business is classified in construction, then OSHA 29 CFR 1926 applies. The following topics should be covered in your manual:

  • General Safety and Health Provisions (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.20)
  • Trenches and Excavations (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.651 & 652)
  • Fall Protection (OSHA 29 CFR 1926 Subpart M)
  • Safety Education and Training (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.21)

3. General industry requirements

If your business is classified as a general industry then OSHA 29 CFR 1910 applies. The following topics should be covered in your manual:

  • Electrical Safety Work Practices (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.331, 332, 333, 334, 335 and 399)
  • Exposure to bloodborne pathogens (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1030)
  • Entering a confined space (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.146):
  • Machinery protection (OSHA 29 CFR 1910 subpart O)
  • Hot Work Program (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.106, 119 and 252)
  • Laboratory chemical safety (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1450)
  • Spill Response Plans (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.120)

When developing a written safety manual, it is important that companies understand the minimum requirements outlined by OSHA. This understanding will help create a well-equipped program to protect businesses from legal or regulatory issues. In addition, it is equally important to create a manual that can be used as a practical and useful tool for your business, training your team on how you expect them to operate safely in the field. Consider adding additional ‘best in class’ procedures to your manual (such as defensive driving, heat / cold stress, occupational hazard analysis, etc.) to create a written program that is really high level. If you need help checking your current manual or making improvements, the experts at ESR are ready and available to help. We offer free consultations and will develop additional improvement plans.

About the Author

Julia Kunlo, Vice President of ESR, is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), has a Masters Degree in Occupational Safety and Health, and is an OSHA OTI 500 Level Instructor as well as a National Center for Construction Education Certified Instructor. and Research (NCCER). . With experience in production and quality as well as in safety, Julia knows how to build well-balanced programs that encompass the many needs of a business. Julia has previously worked with the National Safety Council (NSC) and is an NSC Advanced Safety Certificate (ASC) instructor. Julia specializes in developing written safety programs and auditing safety management systems.

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About Irene J. O'Donnell

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