OSHA in the Office

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) does not just pertain to those in the construction or manufacturing industries.

All employers, regardless of the industry in which they participate, are required by the law to comply with standards applicable to their business and ensure that they provide employees a work environment “… free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm….” This General Duty Clause of the Act as it’s called, pertains to an office environment just as much as it does to field operations.

Even in small offices, certain standards apply, including:

Drinking Water
Potable water must be provided in all places of employment, for drinking, washing, cooking, etc.

Food Waste Disposal
Receptacles must be provided and used for the disposal of food; they must be emptied at least once each working day and maintained in a sanitary condition.

Floors and Passageways
Every floor, working place, and passageway must be kept free from protruding nails, splinters, holes, or loose boards.

Emergency Exits
Exits allowing employees’ prompt escape in case of fire or other emergency must be unobstructed, accessible, and marked.

Emergency Action Plans (EAP)
An EAP must be in writing and made available to employees for review; employers with 10 or fewer employees may communicate the plan orally. Plans must include: procedures for reporting an emergency, procedures for emergency evacuation, procedures to account for employees after an evacuation, etc.

Fire Prevention Plan
Must be in writing and available for employees to review if an employer has more than 10 employees. The plan must contain fire hazards present, ignition sources, and the type of fire protection equipment available.

First Aid
First Aid supplies must be readily available. In the absence of a medical facility in near proximity to the workplace, someone must be adequately trained and available to provide first aid and CPR.

Yes, the Occupational Safety and Health Act pertains to all of us in the softer industries as well.

A reminder to those of you who must complete OSHA 300 forms, do post the OSHA 300A Summary of Work Related Injuries and Illnesses and keep it posted to April 30, 2013.

The above information is provided for informational purposes and is not to be considered legal advice. Questions, call Larry Elinskas at 804-966-8100.