How Do I Find the Appropriate OSHA Regulations for My Industry?

OSHA Regulations

OSHA regulations can be tricky. There are regulations that apply to specific industries and others that apply to any type of workplace that meets certain criteria. Since the wording of some regulations is vague or imprecise, there are often interpretations of the regulations and exceptions to know about, too.

So how do you know which OSHA regulations apply to your business? Here are some steps to follow to get to the right place.

  1. Does your state have its own OSHA program or does federal OSHA have jurisdiction in your state? About half of the states in the U.S. administer their own OSHA programs. Federal OSHA enforces its own regulations in the remaining states. Go to to see which states enforce their own plans.
  2. If you are in a ‘state-plan state,’ find the state OSHA’s web site. Nearly all of the state OSHA programs have their regulations online. If you are in a federal OSHA state, stay at and go to the Regulations page. The online resources available are abundant.
  3. What is your company's industry? That can make a difference in which regulations apply to you. In California, for example, which is a state plan state, there are different “trigger heights” for fall protection that depend on the industry and even the construction trade.

    For Example: California framers on certain construction jobs are not required to use fall protection until they get above 15’; roofers have a 20’ trigger height and ironworkers, with some exceptions, have a 30’ trigger height. However, non-construction worksites have a trigger height of only 7 1/2’. Some exceptions and additional requirements that may apply.
  4. Before reading the regulations from beginning to end, check your OSHA web site for publications about the safety area you are concerned about (e.g. fall protection, hazardous materials). If one exists it will probably summarize the agency’s regulations in plain English and give references to the actual regulations.
  5. Joining a local meet up or safety council as well as attending a safety conference such as national shows hosted by ASSE and NSC are great ways to learn, and connect.
  6. Ask a safety product sales team member, the knowledge they have is an invaluable resource. They spend hours researching products that apply to your industry and will often provide extensive knowledge because they want your business.

Once you have identified the agency that regulates you and found any publications that explain the regulations, it’s time to start looking through the regulations themselves. First check the section and chapter of the regulation before you start reading. If the regulation is specific to an industry it will say so. For example, fall protection requirements located in the construction standards cannot be applied to general industry.

Finally, many regulations have a “scope and application section.” If the scope and application don’t fit your company or situation, move on.


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