Machine Safety: Does OSHA reference consensus standards for compliance?

I have presented or been a presenter at literally scores of machine safety seminars over more than 10 years and absolutely the most asked question is, “Does OSHA reference consensus standards for compliance?”


Does OSHA reference consensus standards for compliance? I have presented or been a presenter at literally scores of machine safety seminars over the past 10-plus years and that is absolutely the most asked question.

OSHA logo

The answer is yes, but in my opinion they don’t do it consistently and they don’t reference this “right” in the obvious places. First of all OSHA has their General Duty Clause right up front in SEC. 5. Duties:

 (a) Each employer --

(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
(2) shall comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated under this Act.

29 USC 654

You would think that this is such a powerful “right” that they would make sure that it’s listed in an obvious place.


Secondly, you need to browse around the OSHA web site for a considerable amount of time until you find the eTools section as I did. Once there you will be able to find the below content, however, I’ve saved you the time by providing this link:

OSHA Machine Guarding eTool


The basic regulation, in Section 1910.212, states that any machine that creates a hazard must be safeguarded to protect the operator and other employees. OSHA can also cite violations by referencing other standards such as the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) B11 series. The following is a list of each ANSI B11 Series Standard available at the printing of this publication.


Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

B11.1   Mechanical Power Presses 
B11.2   Hydraulic Presses 
B11.3   Power Press Brakes 
B11.4   Shears


(Etc. through the entire B11 series)


Thirdly, in my years in the machine safety business I’ve not heard that this enforcement “right” is uniformly applied by all persons enforcing the OSHA regulations on industry. So, is this just one more of those dreaded issues that might or might not surface for any given manufacturer?


Has anyone found the OSHA directives to more clear on this issue than discussed above?


Your comments or suggestion are always welcome so please let us know your thoughts. 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: Machine Safety: Does OSHA reference consensus standards for compliance?



Related articles:

Machine Safety – without an injury, OSHA issues citations for $1M +

We’re Safe – We’ve Had No Machine Safety Accidents For A Long Time

Is OSHA Rear View Mirror Enforcement?


Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

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