Workplace Fire Safety

What should employers do to protect workers from fire hazards?
Employers should train workers about fire hazards in the workplace and about what to do in a fire emergency. If you want your workers to evacuate, you should train them on how to escape. If you expect your workers to use firefighting equipment, you should give them appropriate equipment and train them to use the equipment safely. (See Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 1910 Subparts E and L; and Part 1926 Subparts C and F.)

What does OSHA require for emergency fire exits?
Every workplace must have enough exits suitably located to enable everyone to get out of the facility quickly. Considerations include the type of structure, the number of persons exposed, the fire protection available, the type of industry involved, and the height and type of construction of the building or structure. In addition, fire doors must not be blocked or locked when employees are inside. Delayed opening of fire doors, however, is permitted when an approved alarm system is integrated into the fire door design. Exit routes from buildings must be free of obstructions and properly marked with exit signs. See 29 CFR Part 1910.36 for details about all requirements.

Do employers have to provide portable fire extinguishers?
No. But if you do, you must establish an educational program to familiarize your workers with the general principles of fire extinguisher use. If you expect your workers to use portable fire extinguishers, you must provide hands-on training in using this equipment. For details, see 29 CFR Part 1910 Subpart L.

Must employers develop emergency action plans?
Not every employer is required to have an emergency action plan. OSHA standards that require such plans include the following:
■ Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals, 1910.119
■ Fixed Extinguishing Systems, General, 1910.160
■ Fire Detection Systems, 1910.164
■ Grain Handling, 1910.272
■ Ethylene Oxide, 1910.1047
■ Methylenedianiline, 1910.1050
■ 1,3 Butadiene, 1910.1051
When required, employers must develop emergency action plans that:
■ Describe the routes for workers to use and procedures to follow.
■ Account for all evacuated employees.
■ Remain available for employee review.
■ Include procedures for evacuating disabled employees.
■ Address evacuation of employees who stay behind to shut down critical plant equipment.
■ Include preferred means of alerting employees to a fire emergency.
■ Provide for an employee alarm system throughout the workplace.
■ Require an alarm system that includes voice communication or sound signals such as bells, whistles, or horns.
■ Make the evacuation signal known to employees.
■ Ensure emergency training.
■ Require employer review of the plan with new employees and with all employees whenever the plan is changed.

Must employers have a fire prevention plan?
OSHA standards that require fire prevention plans include the following:
■ Ethylene Oxide, 1910.1047
■ Methylenedianiline, 1910.1050
■ 1,3 Butadiene, 1910.1051
Employers covered by these standards must implement plans to minimize the frequency of evacuations. All fire prevention plans must:
■ Be available for employee review.
■ Include housekeeping procedures for storage and cleanup of flammable materials and flammable waste.
■ Address handling and packaging of flammable waste. (Recycling of flammable waste such as paper is encouraged.)
■ Cover procedures for controlling workplace ignition sources such as smoking, welding, and burning.
■ Provide for proper cleaning and maintenance of heat producing equipment such as burners, heat exchangers, boilers, ovens, stoves, and fryers and require storage of flammables away from this equipment.
■ Inform workers of the potential fire hazards of their jobs and plan procedures.
■ Require plan review with all new employees and with all employees whenever the plan is changed.

For more information, please visit this link:
Workplace Fire Safety and Fire Extinguisher Training

OSHA Asbestos Requirements

What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals used in certain products, such as building materials and vehicle brakes, to resist heat and corrosion. Asbestos includes chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite asbestos, anthophyllite asbestos, actinolite asbestos, and any of these materials that have been chemically treated and/or altered.

What are the dangers of asbestos exposure to workers?
The inhalation of asbestos fibers by workers can cause serious diseases of the lungs and other organs that may not appear until years after the exposure has occurred. For instance, asbestosis can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs and result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. Asbestos fibers associated with these health risks are too small to be seen with the naked eye, and smokers are at higher risk of developing some asbestos-related diseases.

Are you being exposed to asbestos?
General industry employees may be exposed to asbestos during the manufacture of asbestos-containing products or when performing brake and clutch repairs. In the construction industry, exposure occurs when workers disturb asbestos-containing materials during the renovation or demolition of buildings. Employees in the maritime environment also may be exposed when renovating or demolishing ships constructed with asbestos-containing materials. In addition, custodial workers may be exposed through contact with deteriorating asbestos-containing materials in buildings.

Are there any OSHA standards or regulations that cover workers exposed to asbestos?
Yes. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the following three standards to protect workers from exposure to asbestos in the workplace:
■ 29 CFR 1926.1101 covers construction work, including alteration, repair, renovation, and demolition of structures containing asbestos.
■ 29 CFR 1915.1001 covers asbestos exposure during work in shipyards.
■ 29 CFR 1910.1001 applies to asbestos exposure in general industry, such as exposure during brake and clutch repair, custodial work, and manufacture of asbestos-containing products. The standards for the construction and shipyard industries classify the hazards of asbestos work activities and prescribe particular requirements for each classification:
  • Class I is the most potentially hazardous class of asbestos jobs and involves the removal of thermal system insulation and sprayed-on or troweled-on surfacing asbestos-containing materials or presumed asbestos-containing materials.
  • Class II includes the removal of other types of asbestos-containing materials that are not thermal system insulation, such as resilient flooring and roofing materials containing asbestos.
  • Class III focuses on repair and maintenance operations where asbestos-containing or presumed asbestos-containing materials are disturbed.
  • Class IV pertains to custodial activities where employees clean up asbestos-containing waste and debris.

There are equivalent regulations in states with OSHA-approved state plans.

What are the permissible exposure limits for asbestos?
Employee exposure to asbestos must not exceed 0.1 fiber per cubic centimeter (f/cc) of air, averaged over an 8-hour work shift. Short-term exposure must also be limited to not more than 1 f/cc, averaged over 30 minutes. Rotation of employees to achieve compliance with either permissible exposure limit (PEL) is prohibited.

Are employers required to conduct exposure monitoring?
In construction and shipyard work, unless you are able to demonstrate that employee exposures will be below the PELs (a “negative exposure assessment”), you are generally required to conduct daily monitoring for workers in Class I and II regulated areas. For workers in other operations where exposures are expected to exceed one of the PELs, you must conduct periodic monitoring. In general industry, you must perform initial monitoring for workers who may be exposed above a PEL or above the excursion limit. You must conduct subsequent monitoring at reasonable intervals, and in no case at intervals greater than 6 months for employees exposed above a PEL.

Must employers create regulated areas?
You must create controlled zones known as regulated areas that are designed to protect employees where certain work with asbestos is performed. You must limit access to regulated areas to authorized persons who are wearing appropriate respiratory protection. You must also prohibit eating, smoking, drinking, chewing tobacco or gum, and applying cosmetics in these areas. You must display warning signs at each regulated area. In construction and shipyards, workers must perform Class I, II, and III asbestos work (and all other operations where asbestos concentrations may exceed a PEL) within regulated areas. In general industry, you must establish regulated areas wherever asbestos concentrations may exceed a PEL.

What compliance methods must employers use to control exposures?
You must control exposures to or below the PELs using engineering controls and work practices to the extent feasible. Where feasible engineering controls and work practices do not ensure worker protection at the exposure limits, you must reduce employee exposures to the lowest levels achievable and then supplement them with respiratory protection to meet the PELs. In construction and shipyards, each work classification has specific control method requirements. In general industry, specific controls are prescribed for brake and clutch repair work. For example, you must prohibit certain practices, such as the use of compressed air, to remove asbestos.

When are employers required to provide respiratory protection for workers?
You must provide and ensure the use of respirators when a PEL is exceeded. In construction and shipyards, you must require workers to use respirators when performing certain work. Generally, the level of exposure determines the type of respirator needed. In addition, the standards specify the type of respirator to be used for certain asbestos work. (See CFR 1910.134.) Employees must get respirator training and medical clearance to use respirators.

Are employers required to provide protective clothing for workers?
Yes. For any employee exposed to airborne concentrations of asbestos that exceed a PEL, you must provide and require the use of protective clothing such as coveralls or similar full-body clothing, head coverings, gloves, and foot coverings. You must provide face shields, vented goggles, or other appropriate protective equipment wherever the possibility of eye irritation exists and require workers to wear them.

Must employers provide hygiene facilities?
Yes. You must establish decontamination areas and hygiene practices for employees exposed above a PEL. In addition, employees may not smoke in work areas that might expose them to asbestos.

Do OSHA standards require employers to provide training?
Yes. In construction and shipyards, you must provide training for employees exposed above a PEL and for employees involved in each identified work classification. The specific training requirements depend upon the particular class of work being performed. In general industry, you must provide training to all employees exposed above a PEL. You must also provide asbestos awareness training to employees who perform housekeeping operations covered by the standard. You must place warning labels on all asbestos products, containers, and installed construction materials when feasible.

What are employers required to provide concerning medical examinations?
In construction and shipyards, you must provide medical examinations for workers who, for 30 or more days per year, engage in Class I, II, or III work or experience exposure above a PEL. In general industry, you must provide medical examinations for workers who are exposed above a PEL.

What are the recordkeeping requirements for asbestos exposures?
You must keep accurate records of the following:
■ All measurements taken to monitor employee exposure to asbestos—30 years;
■ Medical records, including physician’s written opinions— duration of the employee’s employment plus 30 years; and
■ Training records—1 year beyond the last date of employment.

OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Requirements

What are bloodborne pathogens?
Bloodborne pathogens are infectious materials in blood that can cause disease in humans,
including hepatitis B and C and human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. Workers exposed to these pathogens risk serious illness or death.

What protections does OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen standard provide?
The full text of OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard, published in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations 1910.1030, details what employers must do to protect workers whose jobs put them at a reasonable risk of coming into contact with blood and other potentially infectious materials. The standard requires employers to do the following:
■ Establish an exposure control plan. This is a written plan to eliminate or minimize employee exposures. Employers must update the plan annually to reflect technological changes that will help eliminate or reduce exposure to bloodborne pathogens. In the plan, employers must document annually that they have considered and implemented safer medical devices, if feasible, and that they have solicited input from frontline workers in identifying, evaluating, and selecting engineering controls.
■ Use engineering controls. These are devices that isolate or remove the bloodborne pathogen hazard from the workplace. They include sharps disposal containers, self-sheathing needles, and safer medical devices such as sharps with engineered sharps-injury protection and needleless systems.
■ Enforce work practice controls. These are practices that reduce the likelihood of exposure by changing the way a task is performed. They include appropriate procedures for hand washing, sharps disposing, lab specimen packaging, laundry handling, and contaminated material cleaning.
■ Provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, gowns, and masks. Employers must clean, repair, and replace this equipment as needed.
■ Make available Hepatitis B vaccinations to all employees with occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens within 10 days of assignment.
■ Provide post-exposure followup to any worker who experiences an exposure incident, at no cost to the worker. This includes conducting laboratory tests; providing confidential medical evaluation, identifying, and testing the source individual, if feasible; testing the exposed employee’s blood, if the worker consents; performing post-exposure prophylaxis; offering counseling; and evaluating reported illnesses. All diagnoses must remain confidential.
■ Use labels and signs to communicate hazards. The standard requires warning labels affixed to containers of regulated waste, refrigerators and freezers, and other containers used to store or transplant blood or other potentially infectious materials. Facilities may use red bags or containers instead of labels. Employers also must post signs to identify restricted areas.
■ Provide information and training to employees. Employers must ensure that their workers receive regular training that covers the dangers of bloodborne pathogens, preventive practices, and post-exposure procedures. Employers must offer this training on initial assignment, then at least annually. In addition, laboratory and production facility workers must receive specialized initial training. Bloodborne Pathogens Training Program
■ Maintain employee medical and training records. The employer also must maintain a Sharps Injury Log unless classified as an exempt industry under OSHA’s standard on Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

Chemical Lab Safety

What types of hazardous chemicals are present in laboratories?
Hazardous chemicals present physical or health threats to workers in clinical, industrial, and academic laboratories. They include carcinogens, toxins, irritants, corrosives, sensitizers, hepatotoxins, nephrotoxins, neurotoxins as well as agents that act on the hematopoietic systems or damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes. OSHA currently has rules that limit exposures to approximately 400 substances.

Are there OSHA standards that cover workers exposed to hazardous chemicals in laboratories?
Yes. Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.1450, Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories, covers all workers using hazardous chemicals in laboratories. “Laboratory use” means performing chemical procedures using small quantities of hazardous chemicals on a laboratory scale and not as part of a production process in an environment where protective laboratory practices and equipment are in common use. This standard requires employers to keep employee exposures at or below the permissible exposure limits (PELS) specified in the standard on air contaminants (see CFR 1910.1000, Table Z) and in other substance-specific health standards.

How must employers monitor employee exposures?
You must periodically measure employee exposures to harmful substances if you suspect that these exposures are routinely above the action level (i.e., the threshold for increased compliance activities such as air monitoring and medical examinations). If the exposures are routinely above the action level, you must conduct periodic monitoring of employees for that substance. Monitoring may be terminated when employee exposures are below the action level.

Are employers required to have a chemical hygiene plan?
Yes. If your laboratory employees use hazardous chemicals, you must develop and implement a written chemical hygiene plan to protect them. In addition to appropriate safety and health procedures and hygiene practices for hazardous chemicals in laboratories, the plan must include the following:

  • Criteria for reducing employee exposure to hazardous chemicals;
  • Use of personal protective equipment;
  • Requirements that ensure fume hoods and other protective equipment are functioning properly;
  • Provisions for employee training;
  • Circumstances requiring employer approval of certain laboratory operations, procedures, or activities before implementation;
  • Provisions for medical consultation;
  • Measures to protect employees from particularly hazardous substances; and
  • Assignment of a Chemical Hygiene Officer—a qualified employee who by training or experience can provide technical guidance in developing and implementing the chemical hygiene plan.

What information and training must employers provide to workers?
You must provide workers with information and training that ensures their awareness of the chemical hazards used in their work area. You also must provide this information when an employee is initially assigned to a work area where hazardous chemicals are present and before assignments involving new exposure situations. In addition, you must inform your employees of
the following:

  • Contents of the occupational exposure standard and its appendices;
  • Location and availability of the employer’s chemical hygiene plan;
  • PELs for the hazardous substances to which employees are exposed;
  • Signs and symptoms associated with exposures to hazardous chemicals used in the laboratory; and
  • Location and availability of known reference material on the chemical hazards, and their safe handling, storage, and disposal including, but not limited to, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) received from chemical suppliers.

You must also train your employees concerning the following:

  • Methods of detecting the presence or release of a hazardous chemical;
  • Hazards (both physical and health) of chemicals in the work area;
  • Measures that workers and their employers can take to protect employees from hazards, including specific procedures the employer has implemented to protect employees from exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as appropriate work practices, emergency procedures, and personal protective equipment; and
  • Details of the employer’s written chemical hygiene plan.

When must employers provide medical consultation and examinations for employees?
Employers must give all employees who work with hazardous chemicals the opportunity to receive medical attention, including any follow-up examinations that the examining licensed physician decides are necessary. Employees must receive any medical examinations and consultations without cost or loss of pay and at a reasonable time and place. The employer must provide certain information to the physician, including the identity of the hazardous chemicals, a description of the conditions under which the exposure occurred, and a description of the signs and symptoms of exposure that the employee is experiencing.

What means of hazard identification must the employer use?
You must ensure that labels on incoming containers of hazardous chemicals are not removed or defaced. You must also retain MSDSs on incoming hazardous chemicals and make them available to laboratory employees. An MSDS contains precautions for handling and using harmful substances and includes information such as health hazards, fire and explosion hazards, physical characteristics, hazardous ingredients, personal protective equipment, and spill procedures. (See 29 CFR 1910.1450.)

What are the requirements for respirator use?
If engineering, administrative, and work practice controls fail to maintain exposures below PELs, workers must use respirators to achieve that end. Employers must provide appropriate respiratory protection at no cost to workers, provide appropriate training and education regarding its use, and ensure that workers use it properly. (See 29 CFR 1910.134.)

National Safety Compliance has a complete Laboratory Safety Training Series available.

Aerial Lift Safety

The major causes of injuries and fatalities involving aerial lifts are falls, electrocutions, and collapses or tip-overs. Aerial devices include boom-supported aerial platforms, such as cherry pickers or bucket trucks, aerial ladders and vertical towers (OSHA regulates scissor lifts as mobile scaffolds, not as aerial devices). Safe work practices for aerial lifts include:

Ensure that workers who operate aerial lifts are properly trained in the safe use of the equipment. Test the controls and inspect the aerial lift before use each day. Make sure that all controls are clearly marked as to their function.
• Never override hydraulic, mechanical or electrical safety devices. Maintain and operate aerial lifts according to the manufacturer's instructions. Always stand firmly on the basket floor. Do not sit or climb on the edge or rails of the basket. Never use planks, boxes or other items inside the basket to extend your reach.
• Ensure that all wheels of an elevated lift are on a solid base. Use outriggers, if provided. Set the brakes and use wheel chocks when on an incline. Do not exceed the load limits of the equipment. Allow for the combined weight of the worker(s), tools and materials.
• De-energize and lockout/tagout aerial lifts before performing any maintenance or repairs.

Working near Power Lines
Maintain a minimum clearance of at least 10 feet away from the nearest overhead line. In addition, any conductive object that can be contacted must be maintained at least 10 feet from overheadlines. Conductive objects could be wires, transformers, ducts, pipes or other equipment. Always treat overhead lines as energized, even if they are down or appear to be insulated. (Qualified power line and communications workers and qualified line-clearance tree trimmers are trained to work closer than 10 feet to a power line.) Never lose awareness of the overhead hazard.

Struck-by, Crushed-by, or Caught-in Hazards
Establish and clearly mark a danger zone around the aerial lift support vehicle. Never move the equipment with workers in the elevated platform unless the equipment has been specifically designed for this type of operation. Do not allow workers to position themselves between overhead hazards, such as joists and beams, and the rails of the basket. If the basket moves, the worker(s) could become trapped and crushed between the rails and the overhead object.

Fall Protection
Do not allow workers to belt off to an adjacent pole, structure or equipment while working from an aerial lift. Use a body harness or positioning device with a lanyard attached to the boom or basket to prevent the worker from being ejected or pulled from the basket.

For training programs on this subject and more, visit this link:
Aerial & Scissor Lift Safety Training

OSHA Safety Training Videos

OSHA requires employers to train all employees regarding the hazards in their work environment. This training can be conducted in a variety of ways and may utilize a variety of teaching aids. The most common teaching aid is workplace safety training videos. Safety videos or DVDs can be used to train a room full of employees in one short classroom session. This group training format makes good use of the leaders time and makes DVD training the most affordable training method.

Samples of training programs can be found on the internet, like these on

Back Safety Video / Lifting Safety Video

Forklift Operator Safety Video

For more information about workplace safety videos, please visit this link:

OSHA Safety Training Videos

Safety in Confined Spaces

Worker entering manhole

"Confined Space" refers to a space which by design has limited openings for entry and exit, unfavorable natural ventilation which could contain or produce dangerous air contaminants, and which is not intended for continuous employee occupancy. Confined spaces include but are not limited to storage tanks, compartments of ships, process vessels, pits, silos, vats, degreasers, reaction vessels, boilers, ventilation and exhaust ducts, sewers, tunnels, underground utility vaults, and pipelines. According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program, fatal injuries in confined spaces fluctuated from a low of 81 in 1998 to a high of 100 in 2000 during the five-year period, averaging 92 fatalities per year.

NIOSH Publications on Confined Spaces

Worker Deaths in Confined Spaces
NIOSH Publication No. 94-103 (January 1994)
This publication provides a summary of surveillance findings and the full text of 70 investigative case reports from 70 incidents in which 109 workers died. These incidents and investigations occurred between December 1983 and September 1993.

A Guide to Safety in Confined Spaces Adobe PDF file [ PDF - 326 KB]
NIOSH Publication No. 87-113 (July 1987)
This manual provides information on recognition of confined spaces and their hazards, and specific safe work practices for testing, monitoring, and ventilating the atmosphere; isolation of energy sources (lockout-tagout); respirators; standby/rescue; and addressing general physical hazards such as temperature extremes, engulfment hazards, slick surfaces, and noise. A checklist for confined space entry is appended.

NIOSH Alert: Request for Assistance in Preventing Occupational Fatalities in Confined Spaces
NIOSH Publication No. 86-110 (January 1986)
This publication emphasizes the hazards faced by workers and rescuers who enter confined spaces. It provides summary case reports of eight fatal incidents that were investigated under the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program. The report concludes that in each case there was lack of recognition of the hazards; lack of testing, evaluation, and monitoring; and lack of planned rescue procedures. The Alert provides recommendations for addressing these problems.

Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Working in Confined Spaces
NIOSH Publication No. 80-106 (September 1979)
This publication outlines a classification system for confined spaces (Class A-Immediately Dangerous to Life/Health (IDLH); Class B-dangerous, but not IDLH; Class C-potentially hazardous). It provides a checklist of factors to consider for each class, and provides information on establishing a permit-based entry system, testing and monitoring the atmosphere in a confined space, safe work procedures, and safety equipment and clothing. Other specific topics covered include ventilation, lockout-tagout, rescue, and training.

Confined space safety training materials can be purchased from a variety of sources. These materials may assist employers with making sure employees know and understand the hazards associated with confined spaces.

Worker Safety in Cold Environments

During winter months cold stress can affect many workplace employees. OSHA is very concerned that employers take appropriate steps to make sure all employees are safe. Winter safety involves many aspects including driving safety and cold stress. In this blog post we will focus on OSHA recommended guidelines for frostbite and hypothermia.

For further training on this subject, please visit this link: Winter Safety for Employees

What Happens to the Body:


What Should Be Done: (land temperatures)
  • Move the person to a warm dry area. Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Remove any wet or tight clothing that may cut off blood flow to the affected area.
  • DO NOT rub the affected area, because rubbing causes damage to the skin and tissue.
  • Gently place the affected area in a warm (105°F) water bath and monitor the water temperature to slowly warm the tissue. Don’t pour warm water directly on the affected area because it will warm the tissue too fast causing tissue damage. Warming takes about 25-40 minutes.
  • After the affected area has been warmed, it may become puffy and blister. The affected area may have a burning feeling or numbness. When normal feeling, movement, and skin color have returned, the affected area should be dried and wrapped to keep it warm. NOTE: If there is a chance the affected area may get cold again, do not warm the skin. If the skin is warmed and then becomes cold again, it will cause severe tissue damage.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

HYPOTHERMIA - (Medical Emergency)

What Happens to the Body:


What Should Be Done: (land temperatures)
  • Call for emergency help (i.e., Ambulance or Call 911).
  • Move the person to a warm, dry area. Don’t leave the person alone. Remove any wet clothing and replace with warm, dry clothing or wrap the person in blankets.
  • Have the person drink warm, sweet drinks (sugar water or sports-type drinks) if they are alert. Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
  • Have the person move their arms and legs to create muscle heat. If they are unable to do this, place warm bottles or hot packs in the arm pits, groin, neck, and head areas. DO NOT rub the person’s body or place them in warm water bath. This may stop their heart.
What Should Be Done: (water temperatures)
  • Call for emergency help (Ambulance or Call 911). Body heat is lost up to 25 times faster in water.
  • DO NOT remove any clothing. Button, buckle, zip, and tighten any collars, cuffs, shoes, and hoods because the layer of trapped water closest to the body provides a layer of insulation that slows the loss of heat. Keep the head out of the water and put on a hat or hood.
  • Get out of the water as quickly as possible or climb on anything floating. DO NOT attempt to swim unless a floating object or another person can be reached because swimming or other physical activity uses the body’s heat and reduces survival time by about 50 percent.
  • If getting out of the water is not possible, wait quietly and conserve body heat by folding arms across the chest, keeping thighs together, bending knees, and crossing ankles. If another person is in the water, huddle together with chests held closely.
How to Protect Workers
  • Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that lead to potential cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses/injuries and what to do to help the worker.
  • Train the workforce about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Select proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions. Layer clothing to adjust to changing environmental temperatures. Wear a hat and gloves, in addition to underwear that will keep water away from the skin (polypropylene).
  • Take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up.
  • Perform work during the warmest part of the day.
  • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
  • Use the buddy system (work in pairs).
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks). Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
  • Eat warm, high-calorie foods like hot pasta dishes.
Workers Are at Increased Risk When...
  • They have predisposing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
  • They take certain medication (check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacy and ask if any medicines you are taking affect you while working in cold environments).
  • They are in poor physical condition, have a poor diet, or are older.

Fall Protection in Residential Construction

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health administration today announced a new directive withdrawing a former one that allowed residential builders to bypass fall protection requirements. The directive being replaced, issued in 1995, initially was intended as a temporary policy and was the result of concerns about the feasibility of fall protection in residential building construction. However, there continues to be a high number of fall-related deaths in construction, and industry experts now feel that feasibility is no longer an issue or concern.

"Fatalities from falls are the number one cause of workplace deaths in construction. We cannot tolerate workers getting killed in residential construction when effective means are readily available to prevent those deaths," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Almost every week, we see a worker killed from falling off a residential roof. We can stop these fatalities, and we must."

The National Association of Home Builders recommended rescinding the 1995 directive, as did OSHA's labor-management Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health; the AFL-CIO; and the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association, which represents the 27 states and territories that run their own occupational safety and health programs.

According to data from the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 40 workers are killed each year as a result of falls from residential roofs. One-third of those deaths represent Latino workers, who often lack sufficient access to safety information and protections. Latino workers comprise more than one-third of all construction employees.

OSHA's action today rescinds the Interim Fall Protection Compliance Guidelines for Residential Construction, Standard 03-00-001. Prior to the issuance of this new directive, Standard 03-00-001 allowed employers engaged in certain residential construction activities to use specified alternative methods of fall protection rather than the conventional fall protection required by the residential construction fall protection standard. With the issuance of today's new directive, all residential construction employers must comply with 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1926.501(b)(13). Where residential builders find that traditional fall protection is not feasible in residential environments, 29 CFR 1926.501(b)(13) still allows for alternative means of providing protection.

Construction and roofing companies will have up to six months to comply with the new directive. OSHA has developed training and compliance assistance materials for small employers and will host a webinar for parties interested in learning more about complying with the standard. To view the directive and for more information, visit