Machine Safety

An ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis, operating efficiencies and cost savings, as well as all relevant safety standards, such as those from NFPA, ANSI, RIA, IEC, ISO and OSHA. About J.B. Titus.

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OSHA safety regulations: Incorporation by reference-Do I need to know?

Machine safety OSHA regulations, 29 CFR 1910.XXX, have been in place since the beginning of OSHA in the early 1070’s. So, what’s the problem, and what the devil is “incorporation by reference”?

May 16, 2011


Logo for U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration includes the OSHA web address, www.osha.gov.Machine safety OSHA regulations, 29 CFR 1910.XXX, have been in place since the beginning of OSHA in the early 1070’s. On the other hand, voluntary consensus standards have been in place for decades preceding OSHA and they have regular update cycles of every three to five years. The OSHA regulations have basically not changed since adoption and OSHA declares them to be the basic minimums for machine safety. So, what’s the problem and what the devil is “incorporation by reference”?

     In my opinion, shared by lots of folks throughout industry, the problem is that OSHA machine safety regulations are woefully out of date with current technology. Do you agree?

J.B. Titus, CFSE     Even OSHA agrees – so let’s look into at least two ways OSHA tries to keep up with current technologies and methodologies for machine safety. First, I think a quick look will reveal that OSHA openly reserves the right to reference consensus standards whenever they investigate or cite violations. Several places can be found on their web site where they reserve this right. A lot of people think this is too broad of a reference and causes manufacturers to consider incorporating too many standards.

     Secondly, OSHA reserves the right to “incorporate by reference” various consensus standards, thereby, the consensus standard referenced is considered the law. Several examples of this situation can also be found on the OSHA web site. Any voluntary consensus standard referenced by OSHA is therefore considered the same as a regulation and becomes the basic minimum for machine safety.

     Now – the question of the day! If a voluntary consensus standard is incorporated by reference by OSHA and that consensus standard references an IEC or ISO standard, does that international standard become enforceable by OSHA?

     Let’s hear some answers?

What’s your opinion?

     Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below. Click on the following text if you don't see a comments box, then scroll down: Incorporation By Reference – Do I Need To Know?

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Contact: www.jbtitus.com for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.



For more than 30 years, J.B. Titus has advised a wide range of clients on machine functional safety solutions, including Johnson + Johnson, Siemens, General Motors, Disney, Rockwell Automation, Bridgestone Firestone, and Samsung Heavy Industries. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Oklahoma University in industrial management and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University in marketing and finance. He is a professional member of the American Society of Safety Engineers and is OSHA-certified in machine guarding. Titus is also TUV-certified as a Functional Safety Expert and serves on several American National Standards Institute, National Fire Protection Association, and National Electrical Manufacturers Association national safety and health standards committees. Reach him at jb(at)jbtitus.com and via www.jbtitus.com.