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    September 28, 2021

    The Truth About Exemptions from OSHA Regulations

    When it comes to occupational health and safety, most companies are well aware of their legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment. But when it comes to OSHA standards, does every company have the exact same requirements?

    Believe it or not, there are a few exceptions when it comes to certain OSHA standards and we’re going to tell you what they are. We’re also going to dispel a common myth about regulatory requirements and company size.

    10 Employees or Less

    When it comes to providing a work environment that’s free from recognized hazards, company size really doesn’t matter to OSHA. However, there is a partial exemption given to companies employing fewer than 10 employees at any time during the year—but keep in mind it’s only a partial exemption and it’s only for keeping injury and illness records.

    What does that mean? It means that unless specifically requested (in writing) by OSHA or the Department of Labor, a company employing fewer than 10 workers at any time during the year is not required to keep and maintain OSHA 300, 300A and 301 documents.

    It’s important to note that this partial exemption is based on the number of employees in the entire company, not the number of employees working at single location. In other words, the employee count for the entire company must be 10 or fewer to receive this partial exemption.

    The reason why this exemption is only a partial exemption is because if a company meeting the “10 or fewer” criteria suffers a fatality, amputation, in-patient hospitalization (of just one employee) or an injury resulting in the loss of an eye, they are required to comply with the reporting requirements outlined in Part 1904. For further details about how OSHA defines all of these things, check out OSHA’s FAQ on this topic.

    Outside of being partially exempted when it comes to injury and illness recordkeeping requirements, companies employing fewer than 10 workers are still required to comply with all other safety regulations outlined by OSHA. Luckily OSHA has put together a group of resources geared to helping small business with compliance needs that can be found here.

    Low-Risk Industries

    In addition to employers with fewer than 10 workers (at any time during the year), OSHA has also included certain low-risk industries in this partial exemption. To know whether your industry is included in this partial exemption, OSHA has provided a list of NAICS codes in Part 1904 Subpart B Appendix A. If your company’s NAICS code is included in Appendix A, your company is provided the same partial exemption as businesses with fewer than 10 employees—but just like a company with fewer than 10 workers has to report fatalities, amputations, in-patient hospitalizations (of just one worker) and any injuries resulting in the loss of an eye—you do, too.

    It’s important to remember that this partial exemption for low-risk industries isn’t a “blanket exemption” meaning, if a company has locations that are classified in a non-exempt industry, those locations are still required to comply with Part 1904 in its entirety (unless the company is partially exempted for size).

    One final comment on low-risk industries, if you haven’t kept up with the regulatory changes in awhile and have been operating under the partial exemption for low-risk industries, it might be a good idea to check out the list of newly covered industries. In early 2015, OSHA made significant changes to the recordkeeping and reporting requirements and removed more than a dozen industries from being covered under this partial exemption. If you’re not sure whether you’re still covered, check out OSHA’s list of industries who are now required to keep records.

    Coverage Under the OSH Act of 1970

    As we mentioned a bit ago, there are a few partial exemptions for recordkeeping and reporting requirements however with a very few exceptions, nearly all companies and workers are required to be in compliance with the OSH Act of 1970.

    These few exceptions include the self-employed, immediate family members of farm employers and any employer where workplace hazards are regulated by another federal agency such as MSHA or the FAA. What this means is that employers fitting into these categories are not required to be in compliance with the health and safety regulations found within the OSH Act.

    Get Software To Help with Compliance

    Regardless of whether your company has a partial exemption or not, trying to keep up with all the regulations and requirements contained within the OSH Act can be difficult without a little help. One of the best ways to manage the numerous compliance requirements is to use safety software, like EHS Insight. With our module based software, you can quickly tame the compliance paperwork monster, freeing up your time for other, more important things.

    If you want a safety management system that can help you get a handle on all elements of workplace safety, give us a call and we can have our software up and running in no time.

    Katy Lyden, MS, OHST

    Katy Lyden is a Domain Analyst and EHS Subject Matter Expert for StarTex Software, the company behind EHS Insight. Prior to her current role, Katy spent 17 years successfully leading EHS programs for several large companies within the manufacturing industry. Katy is a Navy veteran, retired Emergency Medical...