OSHA classifies businesses in just a few major ways. General Industry, Construction and Maritime. And although there occasionally may be minor discrepancies by state, the major question is;
Is my business considered to be in General Industry or Construction?
This question is important to answer since different industry address hazards, well, differently.
There are regulatory differences from one industry to another. The reason is, not all work is the same and not all hazards can be addressed the same way.
For example, factory employees can often implement permanent solutions to issues where construction workers have hazards that change the structure of their surroundings throughout the stages of building. Forcing construction companies to solve problems like a factory would be detrimental to business.
Luckily, the distinction is easy to make and we'll get you on the road pretty fast.
*For the purposes of this article, we'll be focusing on the distinction between General Industry and Construction. For those of you in Mining, your governing body is MSHA (the Mining Safety and Health Administration). We will also not be addressing the maritime industry.
Construction is considered to be any work for construction, alteration, and/or repair - including decorating and painting. The construction industry's standards are found under OSHA 1926.
Many clients fall into the maintenance category, which is defined by OSHA as, "making or keeping a structure, fixture, or foundation in proper condition in a routine, scheduled or anticipated fashion."
OSHA has further outlined the definition of maintenance in a letter of interpretation which can find here.
General Industry serves as a catch-all for many, many types of businesses out there. Your brewery? Most likely General Industry. Your brother-in-law's gummy bear factory? Yes, General Industry. Your sister's dry-cleaning business? Yes.
General Industry regulations can be found under OSHA 1910.
Occasionally, you will find some overlap. Such as when construction work is being done in a factory. In that case, the regulations will apply to construction.
Then there is also the occasional case where a regulation is outlined in one industry and not another. For example, there is much more information on crane platforms and rigging in the construction standard and so at times it may be necessary to defer to those regulations.
Start on the Right Road
Regardless of where you find yourself falling in Construction or General Industry, knowing the industry is an important first step on the road to OSHA compliance.
If you need more information, you can access our free e-book, 08 Steps to Confidently Navigate OSHA Safety.