How General Standards Apply to You

How do you ensure that your workplace conforms to the general safety standards that are imposed by OSHA? We've broken the process down into four steps:

Step 1: Identify which of the standards apply to your workplace. To get a copy of the OSHA standards, or if you have any problems determining whether a standard applies to your workplace, you may contact the nearest OSHA area office for assistance (look in the government pages of your local phone book) or you may contact a consultant.

Unfortunately, there is no shortcut in locating which of the 144 general industry standards might apply. The standards are organized by:

Step 2: After you have obtained a copy of the current standards, you will need to read over those standards that apply. However, you will need to review the introduction, often called scope and application, for every standard that is potentially applicable to the workplace.


Powered Industrial Trucks Section

Does your company handle and store materials using fork trucks, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electrical motors or internal combustion engines?

Scope. This section does not apply to compressed air or nonflammable compressed gas-operated industrial trucks, to farm vehicles, or to vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling. Lessees of rented material-handling equipment are responsible for ensuring that such equipment is in compliance. The lessor has no obligation under OSHA requirements, which are concerned only with the equipment as used by employees in their work environment.

If you answered "yes" to the question above, the information in "scope" indicates that the standard applies to your company.

Most businesses need to pay particular attention to the following standards that govern general office worksites:

Step 3: Once you determine which standards apply to your workplace and become familiar with them, you must implement the requirements of all standards that apply to the particular workplace and the particular work task or operation.


If a particular standard applies to your workplace, and you need more time to comply with the standard or you have different but equivalent safeguards from those required by the standard, you may apply to OSHA for a temporary or permanent variance.

Compliance may involve ensuring equipment design specifications, training employees, and establishing prohibited practices and required practices. Compliance may also involve generating records, certifying compliance, or documenting required practices for that standard. These recordkeeping requirements are in addition to the general recordkeeping applicable to all employers.

Step 4: In general, all employers should be aware that any occupational hazard not covered by an industry-specific standard may be covered by a general industry standard or by the general duty clause.

If you need financial help in complying with the standards, the OSH Act has been amended by the Small Business Act to authorize loans (either directly or in cooperation with banks or other lending institution) to assist any small business in "effecting additions to or alteration in the equipment, facilities or methods of operation of such business," in order to comply with OSHA standards, or those adopted by a state pursuant to an approved state plan.