Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protects workers from health and safety hazards in almost every industry. OSHA standards are the workplace health and safety rules that employers must use to protect their employees from workplace hazards. These standards describe employers’ responsibilities for maintaining a hazard-free workplace and measures they must take to protect employees against injuries.
OSHA 29 CFR 1910 General Industry
The purpose of OSHA 29 CFR 1910, which stands for the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration’s Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1910, is to set forth workplace safety standards for the general industry. The latter includes most manufacturing, service industries, warehouses, and healthcare fields.
The standards include requirements for employers to ensure employees have appropriate personal protective equipment to prevent exposure to infectious diseases and toxic chemicals, provide specific training, and put proper safety guards on specific equipment in place.
Part 1910 is divided into more than two dozen subparts that provide guidelines for the workplace’s physical environment, such as flooring and exit paths. It also guides specific activities like machine guarding, working at heights, and entering confined spaces.
OSHA 29 CFR 1926 Construction Industry
Construction is a high-hazard industry. Because of this, a separate set of OSHA standards provide safety and health regulations for construction workers. 29 CFR 1926, Safety and Health Regulations for Construction.
Construction work includes a wide range of activities. In addition to applying to the construction of new structures, the same rules cover the alteration, painting, repair, and demolition of existing structures and other types of assembly, preservation, and maintenance activities.
OSHA lists the following as common hazards for workers in construction:
• Falls from heights
• Trench collapse
• Scaffold collapse
• Electric shock and arc flash/arc blast
• Repetitive motion injuries
Regulations are codified annually in the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Title 40: Protection of Environment is the section of the CFR that deals with EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment.
The EPA has the authority to control hazardous waste from the cradle to the grave as part of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, RCRA, regulating the treatment, storage, generation, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA also set forth a framework for the management of non-hazardous solid wastes. Some amendments to RCRA enabled EPA to address environmental problems that could result from underground tanks storing petroleum and other hazardous substances.
42 USC §7401 Clean Air Act (CAA)
The EPA regulates air emissions from stationary and mobile sources through the Clean Air Act (CAA). This law authorizes EPA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and public welfare and to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) have established limits for six major outdoor air pollutants: lead, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter. The CAA identifies two national ambient air quality standards levels, primary and secondary. In short, primary standards are intended to protect the health of “sensitive” populations such as children and the elderly, while secondary standards provide public welfare protection. The unit of measurement for both measures is parts per million (ppm) by volume, parts per billion (ppb) by volume, and micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3).
33 USC §1251 Clean Water Act (CWA)
The Clean Water Act regulates the discharge of pollutants and surface water quality standards through EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The NPDES program requires organizations that discharge pollutants through a point source to obtain a discharge permit. The permit writer will develop effluent limitations by considering the technology available to control the contaminants and the water quality set by the standards.
42 USC §6901 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
In the United States, hazardous waste is regulated by the EPA under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA is the set federal law that creates the framework for the management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste. Organizations are required to adopt RCRA in addition to state and local requirements. Waste management consists of five components, characterization, collection, storage, treatment, and disposal. Due to permit requirements, most organizations outsource the treatment and disposal process to an outside waste vendor. Organizations that generate hazardous waste are categorized as Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQG), Small Quantity Generators (SQG), or Large Quantity Generators (LQG). The volume of hazardous waste that each generator produces in a calendar month determines the category of the generator and the set of regulations that apply.