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Who is Exempt from OSHA Regulations?

Occupational Safety and Health is a multi-dimensional field that addresses the safety, health, and wellbeing of people in different workplaces. It aims to maintain a healthy and safe working environment for all stakeholders. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal regulatory agency. Its task is to ensure workplaces across the United States remain safe and healthy for everyone involved. It comes under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Labor (DoL). Most offices, factories, and other workplaces follow OSHA regulations as a legal requirement. However, there are some exemptions to these rules.

OSHA Regulations for Self-Employed Workers

OSHA regulations define the term “employer” as someone who runs an enterprise and has hired at least one person as an employee. Hence, self-employed people working as sole proprietors are fully exempt from OSHA regulations. The moment a sole business begins employing another worker, it becomes subject to these regulations. This is true even if it is not running as a formal business entity, like a corporation or an LLC.

work safety

Employers with Ten or Fewer Employees

Small enterprises having ten or less than ten employees are partially exempt from OSHA regulations. They do not have to follow the extensive record-keeping requirements that other larger organizations follow. It is not mandatory for them to keep injury and illness records unless OSHA specifically asks for this data to be provided. These enterprises do have to notify OSHA of any injuries or deaths that may have taken place at their premises.

However, exemptions to OSHA regulations do not apply to Covid-19 cases. All employers, whether big or small, have to report confirmed Covid cases among their workforce to OSHA. The guidelines for reporting such cases are:

  • If there is a confirmed Covid case, as per the Centre for Disease Control (CDC)
  • The employee contracted Covid during the course of duty
  • If the employee did one or more of the following: took days off from work, did restricted work or transferred to some other job, became unconscious, required medical attention beyond basic first-aid, passing away due to Covid
health and safety procedures

Industries Regulated by the Federal or State Governments

Many industries in the United States are regulated by either the federal or state governments. These include the mining and nuclear power sector amongst others. Such industries are exempted from OSHA regulations. These industries are so heavily regulated by other federal and/or state government agencies, that they feel they do not need to subject them to OSHA regulations. Firms in these industries do not operate under OSHA. State government workers are also exempt from OSHA regulations. Different states have their own occupational safety and health regulations in place for state government agencies and departments.

To learn more about OSHA regulations and training material, please click here.


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