Care, Protect, Grow: The U.S. Compliance Blog

NAICS Codes – Using Them to Improve Your Safety Focus

What are NAICS Codes?

Since 1997, the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), pronounced “Nakes,” has been a collaboration between the United States, Mexico, and Canada to provide statistical comparability amongst North American industries. It is a system that is updated every five years and is designed to group North American industries based on their primary activities, processes, and materials used. Entities that have similar processes and use similar materials in similar ways are grouped together.

NAICS Code Format

NAICS codes start with a 2-digit code that specifies a certain economic sector. As more numbers are added, the more specific the code becomes. NAICS codes are generally only used to the 5th digit, while the 6th digit is just an added level of specificity. See an example below:

  • 33: Economic Sector – Manufacturing
  • 331: Subsector – Primary Metal Manufacturing
  • 3315: Industry Group – Foundries
  • 33152: NAICS Industry – Nonferrous Metal Foundries
  • 331524: National Industry: Aluminum Foundries (except Die-Casting)

How do you determine your NAICS code?

If you aren’t sure what your current NAICS code is, you can either look at your OSHA 300A form or use the United States Census Bureau’s NAICS Search Tool. Here, you can either enter a keyword search or select your economic sector and then scroll down to your specific NAIC industry. Be sure to select the year range you are looking for, as the codes are updated every five years and may change over time.

How can NAICS codes be used?

Once you determine your NAICS code, you can then use it in several beneficial ways. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses NAICS codes for their Site-Specific Targeting (SST) and Emphasis (Federal and Regional) programs. OSHA’s SST program uses the Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred (DART) rates to target those companies that have higher DART Rates in comparison to others in their NAICS industry, whereas the emphasis programs focus on specific hazards and high-hazard industries. You can use their data to determine if you may be at a higher risk for an inspection, along with a list of the most commonly cited standards for your industry. Using that information can be helpful when trying to prioritize safety and compliance needs.

DART Rate Benchmarking

Before being able to see how your facility compares to others in your industry, you must calculate your DART rate from the previous year. Below is the formula to calculate your DART rate.

Once you know your DART rate, you can use it to find benchmark data for your NAICS code. One method is by using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Site, the NSC Benchmarking Tool, or one of the several other benchmarking tools available online. These tools will allow you to see how your facility compares to other companies in your industry. If you have a higher-than-average DART rate, then an increased chance of an OSHA inspection is possible. Also, you may need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of your current safety program and see what can be done to lower your rate for current and future years.

OSHA Citations issued by NAICS Code

Another use for NAICS codes is helping to determine the most commonly cited OSHA standards for your industry. OSHA’s website has a page dedicated to frequently cited standards (Federal or State) by industry NAICS code that can be found here.

You can filter the search by the NAICS code, the number of employees, and by either a Federal or a State-run program.


Once you submit your preferences and NAICS code, you will see a table that ranks the most commonly cited standards for your industry.



The search results will show you the standards, the number of citations for each standard, and the penalties issued. You can look at the top standards cited and then compare them to your overall safety program. Knowing the top standards cited in your industry will help you better prioritize safety and compliance goals and efforts. For example, if you know that your Lockout/Tagout program needs improvement and that Lockout/Tagout is the most commonly cited standard in your industry, this should now become a priority issue. Also, if you are struggling to get buy-in or approval for your safety program and/or budget, you can use this information to substantiate budgeting requests, as well as to inform or convince decision-makers into taking action.

As an example, using the search results from above, the average per citation penalty for violations related to Lockout/Tagout standards from October 2021 to September 2022 is $19,065.


NAICS codes can be a helpful tool to improve your safety focus by determining the effectiveness of your safety program by comparing your company to others in your industry. They’re also helpful in knowing if your code is being targeted by OSHA or knowing which standards OSHA is commonly enforcing. Using that information can certainly be beneficial in prioritizing and improving your current and future safety efforts.

If you need additional guidance about working with NAICS codes, contact U.S. Compliance for assistance searching, analyzing, or improving your facility’s safety needs.














OSHA Citations in 2023 and Understanding the New Enforcement Guidance

On November 2, 2015, The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act was passed in Congress. Under the Act, agencies, including the Department of Labor, are required to annually adjust civil monetary penalties to account for inflation. The Department calculates the adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U), utilizing the change from October 2021 to October 2022. The resulting annual adjustment multiplier was 1.07745. With this, 2023 penalty amounts incurred a 7.75% increase to minimum and maximum penalty amounts, rounded to the nearest dollar. The largest increase since the 78% catch-up adjustment in 2016 became effective on January 17, 2023.

Department of Labor National News Release

On January 26, 2023, the Department of Labor issued an OSHA National News Release titled “Department of Labor announces enforcement guidance changes to save lives, target employers who put profit over safety.” In the release, the agency explained that the new enforcement guidance intends to deter employers from repeated or willful employee hazard exposure by ensuring OSHA personnel apply the full authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to discourage non-compliance. There were two initiatives as part of the strategy, each communicated to regional administrators in a respective memorandum that can be found here.

Expanding the Scope of Instance-by-Instance Citations

OSHA personnel were given guidance on the expanded application of issuing citations for violations on an instance-by-instance (IBI) case. Previously, the IBI policy only related to willful violations. Instance-by-instance citations may be applied when the text of the relevant standard allows (such as, but not limited to, per machine, location, entry, or employee), and when the instances of violation cannot be abated by a single method of abatement.

The expanded IBI case policy for high-gravity serious violations now includes

  • Lockout/tagout
  • Machine guarding
  • Permit-required confined space
  • Respiratory protection
  • Falls
  • Trenching
  • Cases with other-than-serious recordkeeping violations

The decision to use IBI citations in a case normally includes one or more of the following:

  • The employer has received a willful, repeat, or failure to abate violation within the past five years where that classification is current;
  • The employer has failed to report a fatality, inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye under the requirements of 29 CFR 1904.39;
  • The proposed citations are related to a fatality/catastrophe;
  • The proposed recordkeeping citations are related to injury or illness(es) that occurred as a result of a serious hazard.

Authority to Not Group Violations

The second initiative reminds OSHA personnel of their authority not to group violations. This strategy reiterates an existing policy intended to achieve a deterrent effect in cases where evidence suggests conditions are separate and distinct or where other conduct gives rise to the violations.

OSHA personnel were reminded of their discretion to cite separately, specifically when the following applies.

  • Violations have differing abatement methods
  • Each violative condition may result in death or serious physical harm
  • Each violative condition exposes workers to a related but different hazard

The Field Operations Manual Chapter 4 Section X provides scenarios where grouping violations should be considered.

  • Two or more serious or other-than-serious violations constitute a single hazardous condition that is overall classified as the most serious item;
  • Grouping two or more other-than-serious violations considered together creates a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm;
  • Grouping two or more other-than-serious violations results in a high gravity other-than-serious violation.

Severe Violator Enforcement Program

As explained in the OSHA National News Release, the intent of the new enforcement guidance is to encourage OSHA Personnel to utilize the full authority of the OSH Act to encourage employer compliance. OSHA Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) categorizes an SVEP case specifically as meeting one of three applicable criteria:

  1. Fatality/catastrophe inspection where OSHA finds at least one willful or repeated violation or issues a failure-to-abate notice based on a serious violation directly related either to an employee death or to an incident causing three or more employee hospitalizations;
  2. An inspection where OSHA finds at least two willful or repeated violations or issues failure-to-abate notices (or any combination of these violations/notices) based on the presence of high-gravity serious violations;
  3. All egregious (e.g., per-instance citations) enforcement actions shall be considered SVEP cases.

New enforcement guidance has expanded the scope of egregious cases and potentially increases the number of violations an employer may receive. In both instances, the number of cases that result in employers falling under the SVEP program is likely to increase. Enforcement actions for severe violator cases include mandatory follow-up inspections and, where appropriate, ensure increased awareness of the enforcement actions at the corporate level, corporate-wide agreements, enhanced settlement provisions, and federal court enforcement under Section 11(b) of the OSH Act. In addition, this instruction provides for nationwide referral procedures, which include OSHA’s State Plans. SVEP term is a minimum of two years with an enhanced settlement agreement or three years from hazard abatement, given other conditions are met.

Wondering what this could mean for your facility? Contact U.S. Compliance for the most up-to-date information needed to maintain compliance under OSHA’s newest enforcement guidance.


Safety and Cold Conditions in Manufacturing

As the winter months continue, it’s important to prepare for the challenging weather conditions that come with the season, including frigid temperatures and strong winds. Whether your employees work outside in these harsh conditions or if they are exposed to cold temperatures in an indoor manufacturing or warehouse facility, providing them with an environment free of cold working hazards can be a challenge. By taking a look at what these hazards are and what cold-related injuries and illnesses can occur, you can prioritize keeping workers safe and warm at your facility.

Cold Working Conditions

There are several types of work that are impacted by cold conditions. Naturally, industrial freezers and coolers, cold production lines, dock areas, and maintenance work come to mind. Workers in these jobs can be directly impacted by cold conditions created by the temperatures of their inside work environments. Other workers, such as those in the construction industry, road and highway maintenance, waste haulers, delivery and truck drivers, emergency services, and others, deal not only with cold atmospheric conditions from working outdoors but also often have the addition of a brutal wind chill factor as well.


When dealing with cold temperatures and wind chill, heat can leave the body more rapidly, which creates the potential for cold-related injuries and illnesses, or “cold stress.” Cold stress occurs when a person’s skin temperature, and eventually core body temperature, drops. When the body can no longer maintain its normal temperature, serious injuries resulting in permanent tissue damage, or even death, can occur.

Cold-Related Illnesses


The most commonly known cold stress illness is hypothermia. Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures. Under cold conditions, the body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced, eventually using up the body’s stored energy and leading to a lower body temperature. If the body’s temperature gets too low, it can affect the brain, which can cause slurred speech, memory loss, dexterity problems, drowsiness, and overall confusion.

Hypothermia is especially dangerous because a person may become so confused that they may not know what is happening and are unable to do anything about their condition. Although hypothermia most commonly occurs in cold temperatures, it can also become a hazard at more mild temperatures if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.


Frostbite is an injury that generally affects the extremities (usually hands and feet, nose, ears, cheeks, and chin), freezing the skin and underlying tissues. The first signs of frostbite are cold skin, prickling, and numbness. Because of the numbness, workers may not realize that they have frostbite until someone points it out. As with other cold stress illnesses, frostbite also has varying levels of severity.

Frostnip is mild frostbite that irritates the skin, causes a change in skin color, and bestows the feeling of cold and numbness but does not cause permanent damage. With superficial frostbite, the skin feels warm, and blisters may appear after warming the skin. As frostbite progresses, deep or severe frostbite occurs, affecting all layers of the skin and underlying tissues. With severe frostbite, the skin will turn white or blue-gray, and all sensation will be lost. Joints or muscles may stop working, and large blisters will form. Eventually, the tissue will turn black and hard as it dies. Frostbite at this stage regularly leads to amputation.

Trench Foot

Also known as Immersion Foot Syndrome, trench foot is a serious condition that results from feet getting wet and not drying off properly. The medical term for trench foot is Non-Freezing Cold Injury or NFCI. Trench foot most commonly occurs in temperatures of 30º to 40º F but can even occur in temperatures as warm as 60º F. The contributing factor is how wet the feet become and not necessarily how cold they are. With prolonged cold and wetness, feet can lose circulation and nerve function. Those at the highest risk levels are those in wet working environments that may be exacerbated by cold weather.

Some of the signs and symptoms of trench foot, or NFCI, are feet that are cold, swollen, heavy, painful, and prickly. The skin color of the foot will be white or gray, and the foot will feel numb. These symptoms are due to blood vessels constricting in cold, moist conditions, which results in a lack of oxygen to the tissues.

Treatment of Cold-Related Illnesses

Although these illnesses vary, treatments for cold-related conditions are similar. With all three, prompt medical care is vital for the safety of the worker. The following steps should be followed for all cold-related illnesses:

  • Move the affected worker to a warm, dry area
  • Remove any wet clothing and replace with dry clothing. Wrap in a warm blanket, taking care to cover the head and neck.
  • Provide the person with warm drinks if they are alert. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Frostbitten areas should be wrapped loosely in a dry cloth – DO NOT rub the affected areas, as this causes damage to skin tissues. DO NOT try to re-warm the frostbitten areas with heating pads or warm water. It is safer for a frostbitten area to be rewarmed by medical professionals.
  • With trench foot, keep the person sitting with their feet slightly elevated
  • With ALL emergency situations, call 911

Cold-Related Injuries

Oftentimes the injuries associated with work in cold weather environments can be overshadowed by cold stress illnesses. Sprains, strains, and fractures can easily be attributed to slips and falls in wet or icy conditions. Snow removal tasks come with a strong potential for back and shoulder injuries. Similarly, truck drivers may slip and fall while entering or exiting their vehicles, and production workers may experience contusions or lacerations due to poor dexterity caused by cold hands. Regardless of the type of injury that may occur, they are all often attributed to the harsh conditions of a cold environment.


As an employer, extra steps should be taken to ensure those working in cold environments are aware of the hazards and how to prevent injury or illness in these conditions. It is important that workers are trained in recognizing hazards in their environment and workplace conditions. Workers should be aware of slip/fall hazards, know the signs and symptoms of cold stress, and learn what to do to help those who are affected. Other controls to help prevent cold-related illnesses and injuries include

  • Schedule work during the warmest part of the day
  • Keep walking/working surfaces free of ice and water
  • Require employees to work in pairs in order to watch out for each other
  • Provide radiant heat warming areas and offer more frequent breaks for warming
  • Provide protective clothing to ward off the adverse effects of the cold working climates (i.e. waterproof boots and gloves, insulated clothing and cold weather hats, gloves and jackets, and face protection to provide a protective layer against the elements. When possible, explore the options of new technology by providing battery-heated coats and jackets, hand and foot warmers, and moisture-wicking clothing.)
  • Provide slip-resistant, waterproof boots in wet working conditions
  • Provide warm, sweet beverages (hot chocolate, tea, or cider). Avoid caffeine and of course, alcohol.
  • Encourage employees to dress in several layers of loose clothing to provide insulation to the body


Employee exposure to cold working conditions is inevitable in many locations and industries, but the consequences are avoidable. Being prepared for cold conditions by providing workers with cold weather protective equipment, allowing for breaks, and educating them about the hazards they can face are all integral to a cold conditions working plan.

If you need assistance creating a plan to mitigate cold-related illnesses and injuries, contact U.S. Compliance for guidance in maintaining a safe work environment in any season.

Confined Space Entry: Permit or Non-Permit?

According to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS), there were 1,030 confined space entry fatalities across all fifty states from 2011 to 2018. In addition, confined space fatalities increased from 120 in 2011 to 148 in 2018.

Permit or Non-Permit?

For those that may not know, in 29 CFR 1910.146(b), OSHA defines a confined space as any space that (1) is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work, (2) has limited or restricted means for entry and exit, and (3) is not designated for continuous employee occupancy.

Once the confined space applicability has been established, the employer must determine the permit applicability of the space. This is completed by evaluating to see if any of the three following hazards exist: (1) Hazardous Atmosphere, (2) Contains material or has a configuration that has the potential to engulf or entrap, and/or (3) Contains other recognized serious safety or health hazard. This second evaluation step is where you, as the employer, determine if the space is permit-required or not. A flow chart is listed below to help you assess the spaces at your facility.


It’s important to note that non-permit does not necessarily mean non-hazardous. Keep in mind that during the entrance to the space conditions, hazards and the scope of work may change. This makes it necessary for you, as the employer, to re-evaluate the space.

Can a Permit-Required Confined Space be re-classified as a Non-Permit Space and if so, what are the criteria?

Yes, a permit-required confined space may be reclassified into a non-permit confined space under certain conditions. Essentially, a non-permit confined space involves a confined space that does not contain or, with respect to atmospheric hazards, have the potential to contain any hazard capable of causing death or serious physical harm.

To re-classify a permit-required confined space into a non-permit confined space, you must do the following:

  • If the permit-required space poses no actual or potential atmospheric hazards (and you’ve tested and inspected the space to ensure that), and if all hazards within the space are eliminated without entry into the space, the permit space may be reclassified as a non-permit space for as long as the non-atmospheric hazards are eliminated.
  • You must document the basis for determining that all hazards in a permit space have been eliminated through a certification that contains the date, the location of the space, and the signature of the person making the determination. The certification shall be made available to each employee entering the space or to that employee’s authorized representative.
  • Note: Control of atmospheric hazards through forced air ventilation does not constitute the elimination of the hazards.

What does this mean for my facility and my team?

As an employer, you may be thinking, “our employees don’t enter confined spaces—it’s the contractor’s responsibility.” However, just because your employees do not enter the space directly does not mean that you can overlook the entrance process and the hazards associated with it.

OSHA states that there are three designations for employers: the entry, the host, and the controlling contractor/employer. For example, if a company is leasing a building and needs a contractor to come onsite and clean out a pit or work on a large machine, the owner of the building or property would be the host employer. The company operating in that space would be the controlling employer, and the contractor would be the entry employer.

To put it simply, the host employer is the employer that owns or manages the property where the entrance is being completed. The controlling employer is the employer with the overall responsibility for the entrance. Lastly, the entry employer/contractor is the one who decides if the space will be entered and should communicate with the controlling employer to determine what hazards exist inside the respective confined space and, most importantly, how to control said hazards and protect employees prior to entry.

Strategies for Safe Entry

Often, companies today are contracting out confined space entry because of the scope of the job being completed, and because of the risks associated with the entrance. That can often lead to confusion or ignorance when it comes to confined space entry. Below are the key steps for a safe entry, regardless of the entrant or the host/controlling employer.

  1. Complete a documented assessment of the spaces at your facility for permit applicability.
  2. Post notice of permit-required confined spaces at their access points.
  3. Determine if your employees will be entering any permit-required confined spaces.
  4. If your employees will be entering permit-required confined spaces, review specific employee responsibilities and rescue plans before entering any permit-required confined spaces.
  5. If any atmospheric hazards may be present, make sure to complete air monitoring prior to entry and throughout the job at the front, middle, and back of the space.
  6. Implement controls for all other hazards, including lockout/tagout, the use of PPE, fall protection, and air monitoring.
  7. Train employees in confined space entry, awareness, and hazard recognition.
  8. Practice the training through confined space entry drills. If offsite rescue is being used, invite them to the drill as well.

If you need assistance determining permit applicability or evaluating your facility’s confined spaces, U.S. Compliance can offer the resources and guidelines to ensure safe working conditions and maintain compliance.

Injury Prevention: Management of Non-Routine Tasks as a Method to Reduce Risk

Non-routine tasks arise in nearly every workplace and can present multiple risks to employees. For standard, everyday processes, understanding risks and how to minimize interaction with these risks is fairly straightforward to evaluate and control. When unexpected tasks need to be addressed quickly, it can be challenging to assess and manage the issue in a safe manner. Thus, it is critical that every facility understands and prepares for non-routine tasks.

Common non-routine tasks include emergency maintenance, natural disasters, confined space entry, and chemical spill cleanups. Oftentimes, during these emergencies, speed is prioritized over safety. This type of quick, unplanned work can result in severe injuries if adequate assessments and preparations are not made.

Non-routine tasks can also include tasks conducted for the first time, infrequent tasks, tasks assigned that are outside of an employee’s regular duties, and tasks performed differently than the originally documented procedure. Although a task may be routine for one employee, the same may not be true for a new employee or an employee who stepped into a new role. It is critical for employees who are conducting non-routine tasks to have the time, resources, and training before they begin their work.

Reacting vs Responding

Preparation is the key difference between reacting and responding. When we react, we act spontaneously and rely on our instincts. If an employee is inexperienced or is working too quickly without taking into consideration safety measures, then this type of reactionary work can lead to a serious injury. In contrast, when we respond, our actions are planned, and there is a framework to work within, which can help manage risks and reduce the probability of injuries.

A facility that is prepared to respond would have the necessary equipment, PPE, and employee training prior to the event. This type of preparation allows the team to manage non-routine tasks in a safe and efficient manner.

Proactive Preparation

The first step towards minimizing the risks associated with non-routine tasks is to proactively identify unexcepted circumstances that may arise. For example, although a roof leak may be infrequent, if the leak occurs whenever there is heavy rainfall, it can be anticipated that it will occur again. Thus, the facility can prepare for this task by conducting an assessment and developing a procedure for repairing the roof.

Active safety committees with representation from different departments can be especially useful when trying to understand and assess various non-routine tasks throughout the facility. To start, the facility should assemble and agree upon a list of non-routine tasks that need to be evaluated. Once identified, the team can work together to observe and document any risks, hazards, and areas of concern for each task. The team can then work together, and/or with third-party specialists to establish a formal working procedure to address the specific non-routine task.

Job Hazard Assessments

Job Hazard Assessments should identify risks and hazards, detail how to execute the task in a manner that avoids these risks and hazards, and specify the required equipment and PPE. The information should be reviewed with all applicable employees and should be presented in a clear, detailed manner. The team should then observe the employee execute the procedure and determine if any deficiencies need to be addressed.

It is critical to periodically review the assessments and non-routine tasks to ensure that the procedure is adequate and addresses all safety concerns. This periodic review is also useful in assessing an employee’s competency with the procedure. The regular review of hazardous tasks encourages employees to take a deeper look into the hazards and risks associated with their work.


Collaborative efforts within a facility are the key to understanding and addressing the safety concerns associated with non-routine tasks. Each department and each employee face their own unique challenges and job tasks; their input and insight can be particularly useful when trying to understand the nuances of non-routine tasks.

Without careful evaluation and preparation, employees who conduct non-routine tasks can be at risk for serious injuries. Although developing procedures and protocols for non-routine tasks can be time-consuming and potentially costly, it is a necessary step toward ensuring the safety and well-being of your employees.

If you need assistance with Job Hazard Assessments or any other steps in the prevention process, U.S. Compliance is ready to help with all of your injury prevention needs.

Industrial Hygiene – Tips for Effective Site Surveys

What is Industrial Hygiene?

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) defines industrial hygiene as “a science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control, and confirmation of protection from those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace which may cause sickness, impaired health and well being, or significant discomfort among workers or among citizens of the community.”

How to Conduct a Site Survey

1. Conduct a Walkthrough Survey 

When questioning what type of monitoring or where monitoring is needed in a facility, it is recommended to start with a facility walkthrough. The walkthrough is needed to identify the different areas of the facility, how they are separated, and what processes take place in the different areas. Looking at the roof lines of the facility can help determine what areas would be exposed to similar contaminants based on the materials used or processes performed in those areas.

You also want to take note of anything you hear, see, smell, or touch when completing the walkthrough. Do you notice that certain areas are much noisier than others? Do you notice strong smells of any sort in any area or around a specific process? Do you see anything that is concerning, such as a dust cloud when an employee empties a bag of powdered material into a tank? Do you touch anything like oil mist on the floor as you are walking?


2. Identify Potential Concerns 

When looking to identify potential concerns, direct exposure must be assessed. Direct exposure occurs when an employee is exposed to a chemical or material through a process or task. The employee may directly handle the material, or they may be exposed to the material through a process.

With direct exposure, the contamination concern is the same as the material being used. For example, an employee could be exposed to alcohol vapors if they used alcohol to wipe down a product. They could also be exposed to alcohol vapors if they are working adjacent to a mixing tank where large amounts of alcohol are added. Any employee direct exposure should be assessed to determine the need for industrial hygiene monitoring.

Common hazards found in manufacturing environments include:

  • Chemical Hazards
    • Gases, vapors, dusts, fumes, mists, or smoke
  • Physical Hazards
    • Noise


3. Study the Relevant Processes

It is also important to access process(es) generating exposure. Process-generated exposure occurs when the process or task creates a different exposure hazard. For example, if an employee is bending a piece of metal with a press brake, there is little risk for any type of exposure. Meanwhile, if an employee is performing welding tasks on that same piece of metal, there could be several potential exposure hazards because of the weld fumes created during the process.

Any task that involves heating/cutting/mixing chemicals or materials should be accessed for process-generated exposure. The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) of the raw material(s) used in the process or task is helpful in determining potential hazards generated with exposure.


4. Conduct Monitoring

Conducting industrial hygiene monitoring is a critical step in controlling any potential hazards and important data to validate the need for mandated programs or the exemption thereof. The results of the monitoring will identify if controls are needed to keep employees safe. Even if there is no expected overexposure to a hazard, conducting baseline testing is still recommended. Baseline testing is the initial testing that identifies the level of hazard that employees are exposed to.

Testing should be completed with calibrated equipment capable of determining the time-weighted average (TWA) exposure. The time-weighted average takes into account the variable exposure through an entire shift, 8-hour workday, and 40-hour week exposure time.

While there is no required frequency for industrial hygiene testing, U.S. Compliance would recommend completing testing every 3-4 years if there are no specific concerns. Other triggers for testing would include facility changes or process changes.

Some hazards, such as lead contamination or chromium (VI) contamination, have specific testing requirements based on employee exposure. Details for specific testing requirements can be found within the OSHA regulation associated with the contaminant.

Common sampling examples include but are not limited to:

  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Dust (total particulate and respirable particulate)
  • Total weld fumes
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Crystalline Silica
  • Isocyanates
  • Oil Mists
  • Acids
  • Noise


5. Interpret the Results 

Once the results from monitoring are received, they will need to be compared to enforceable, applicable, and/or suggested exposure limits.

  • Permissible Exposure Level (PEL)
    • The TWA concentration for a conventional 8-hour workday and a 40-hour work week, to which it is believed that nearly all workers may be repeatedly exposed, day after day, without adverse effect. As regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
  • Occupational Exposures Limits (OELs) – Suggested exposure limits
      • Threshold Limit Value (TLV)
        • The TWA concentration for a conventional 8-hour workday and a 40-hour work week, to which it is believed that nearly all workers may be repeatedly exposed, day after day, without adverse effect. As suggested by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).
  • Recommended Exposure Level (REL)
        • The TWA concentration for a conventional 8-hour workday and a 40-hour work week, to which it is believed that nearly all workers may be repeatedly exposed, day after day, without adverse effect. As suggested by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  • Short Term Exposure Limit (STEL)
      • The concentration to which it is believed that workers can be exposed continuously for a short period of time without suffering from irritation, chronic or irreversible damage, or narcosis that could lead to injury. The STEL is defined as a 15-minute exposure (and no more than 4 times per day with 60-minute intervals in-between).

If a monitoring result is found to be nearing the exposure limit, no action is required, although the contaminant should be monitored closely to ensure that it remains at a safe level.

If a monitoring result is found to exceed the exposure limit, controls should be implemented to protect the employee. Controls should be implemented following the below hierarchy.

If industrial hygiene monitoring results identify that there is no overexposure to a hazard, it is still a valuable result. The favorable result is documentation that the facility has provided a safe work environment for the employee.

U.S. Compliance can assist with most industrial hygiene sampling. If you need assistance with site surveys or testing, consult U.S. Compliance to maintain a safe facility.

OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Heat-Related Hazards

Earlier this year, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) released its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Outdoor and Indoor Heat-Related Hazards. The stated aim of the NEP is to “identify and eliminate or reduce […] occupational heat-related illnesses and injuries” by focusing on specific industries where such hazards exist.

In the past, heat-related inspections have accounted for 0.5% of all Federal inspections for fiscal years 2017 through 2021. Under this new directive, each Region is expected to double the number of heat inspections for 2022 from the previous five-year average. Following an inspection by a compliance safety and health officer (CSHO), a site may be issued a General Duty Clause (GDC) violation under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act or a Hazard Alert Letter. However, OSHA may cite under an existing standard, such as 29 CFR § 1910.141, 29 CFR §1926.51, or 29 CFR §1928.110, that require potable water to be made available to employees.

Industries Targeted by the NEP

In Appendix A of the NEP, OSHA provides three tables of industries listed by their four-digit NAICS codes that have historically experienced a significant number of heat-related illnesses. Certain industries may have heat hazards inherent to their operations, such as bakeries, chemical manufacturing, and foundries. OSHA will randomly select which sites to visit on days where heat warnings or advisories are issued by the National Weather Service. Referrals for inspections may also be made by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Scope of Inspections

When a CSHO visits a site, they will assess how heat has affected and continues to affect the health and safety of the workers and assess what measures the employer has taken to mitigate exposure. The CSHO may review any pertinent OSHA 300 Logs and 301 Incident Reports as well as conduct worker interviews. A review of the site’s heat illness and injury program—if one exists—may also be conducted. In their review, the CSHO may check to see if elements of a comprehensive program are in place, including heat assessments, work-rest schedules, training, and provisions for acclimatization for new and returning workers.

To evaluate whether workers are at risk of heat-related illnesses, the CSHO will document weather conditions for the day, noting temperature and humidity, and will also seek to identify any activities that expose workers to heat-related hazards. After their inspection, the CSHO will review their data and determine if a citation or heat hazard letter is warranted.

Be Prepared, Be Ready

To avoid heat-related illnesses and keep workers safe, employers should implement engineering and administrative controls. Air conditioning, cooling fans, and shade should be provided where feasible. The employer should also consider scheduling jobs for either the cooler parts of the workday or during the cooler season—especially those involving routine maintenance. Workers should also take rests from the heat and use the time to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost through sweating. Employers should educate workers on how to identify heat-related illnesses and provide first aid. Employers should also provide training employees ample time to acclimatize to the heat. All these measures are part of an effective heat illness and injury program.

Should you need assistance in implementing a heat illness and injury program at your site, consult U.S. Compliance. U.S. Compliance can help you understand the applicability of the NEP to your site and evaluate heat exposure to keep your employees safe.

Electrical Safety – Effective Program Management

When working around electrical equipment, are your employees aware of the requirements and hazards associated with electrical safety? OSHA and NFPA have certain guidelines and criteria to follow to maintain an Electrical Safety Program. Following these guidelines will ensure that your facility and employees are working within the correct safety precautions.

It is required for all employers to implement and maintain an electrically safe work program that directs activity based on risks associated with electrical hazards. The program must include elements that verify electrical systems and equipment to comply with applicable installation codes and standards prior to being placed in service. This also qualifies for host employers that contract out any electrical work being performed at their facility. Employers are required to meet certain OSHA and NFPA 70E compliance standards in the areas of arc flash and electrical safety. Some examples of these standards are:

  • A short circuit study and development of time-current curves for protective devices
  • A protective device coordination study
  • Short circuit line diagrams
  • Comprehensive single-line diagrams for all services in the building
  • An SOP for keeping single-line diagrams up to date
  • Incident energy calculations for devices included in the arc flash study
  • Electrical safety training protocols (can be outlined within an electrical safety program)
  • Guidance on developing an electrical safety program
  • Developing an electrically energized work permit system
  • Arc flash safety PPE for qualified workers who may service electrical enclosures onsite
    • Specific PPE requirements can be determined from arc flash study

Risk Assessment

Employers must develop and maintain procedures for employees to utilize before being exposed to an electrical hazard. This can be done in the form of a Risk Assessment. The elements of that risk assessment must contain the following information:

  • Identifying hazards
  • Assess Risk
  • Implementation of controls

The Implementation of controls for hazards identified shall be done by elimination, substitution, engineering, awareness, and administrative or personal protective equipment. Once the risks have been identified and controlled, work procedures must be developed for employees to follow to ensure that hazards are not present. Once the risk assessments have been completed, work instructions or Lockout Tagout Procedures can be used as a control to ensure zero energy is obtained before working on an electrical system.

Employee Training

Once work procedures are developed and hazards have been controlled, employers must train employees as either Qualified or Unqualified Workers. As workers are identified as Qualified or Unqualified, review requirements on what additional training may be needed. For Qualified employees, Lockout Tagout training must be completed, as well as having the company’s Emergency Response Team trained in Contact Release.

Whether employers are performing this type of work in-house or having this contracted out, host employers must complete an Electrical Safety Program to review and communicate hazards in the workplace. Review OSHA and NFPA standards to ensure compliance is being maintained.

If you need assistance with your facility’s Risk Assessment or employee training, contact U.S. Compliance for guidance and helpful resources.

First Aid in the Workplace – Training Options and Key Considerations

While most work in the health and safety field focuses on injury prevention, every facility needs a plan if and when injuries do occur. Preparing to help employees in situations where things go wrong is a critical aspect of a comprehensive safety & health program. First aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and automated external defibrillator (AED) training allow a quicker onsite response to an emergency, which can help to prevent injuries from worsening. It’s important to understand first aid treatment and the associated training requirements to create and maintain a safe environment at your facility and remain compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

First aid training and the certification process gives employees the necessary information, skills, and confidence to help others during emergency situations. This training class will only take a few hours and can make a significant difference in assisting someone experiencing a medical emergency. According to the National Safety Council, 70% of heart attack-related deaths occur before reaching the hospital. In the midst of medical emergencies, every second counts, and having a team on-site that has been trained in First Aid/CPR/AED can make a world of difference.

First Aid Training and Regulatory Compliance

First Aid/CPR/AED training also has implications for regulatory compliance, as seen in 29 CFR 1910.151 (b), which states, “in the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available.” This provides employers the option to have a member of the workforce trained in First Aid/CPR/AED. This option, for most employers, is a feasible and low-cost way to protect employees while remaining compliant with regulatory standards. OSHA recommends, but does not require, that every workplace include one or more employees who are trained and certified in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

While OSHA standards do not specifically address AEDs, they do recommend that CPR training be a general program element of a first aid program. Some OSHA standards, like logging operations (29 CFR 1910.266), permit-required confined spaces (29 CFR 1910.146), and electric power generation, transmission, and distribution (29 CFR 1910.269), for example, have specific requirements that employees be trained in first aid and CPR. If an employer is covered by one of these specific standards, CPR training is required.

Under 29 CFR 1910.146: Permit-required Confined Spaces, employers are required to train affected employees in basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), as well as ensure that at least one member of the rescue team or service who holds a current certification in both areas is available. In 29 CFR 1910.269: Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution, there are clearer instructions on how many first aid-trained people should be available, depending on when and where the work is taking place. When employees are performing work on or are associated with exposed lines or equipment energized at 50 volts or more, the requirements for compliance are as follows:

  • For fieldwork involving two or more employees at a work location, at least two trained people must be available.
  • For line-clearance tree trimming performed by line-clearance tree trimmers who are not qualified employees, only one trained person needs to be available if all new employees are trained in first aid within three months of their hiring dates.
  • For fixed work locations such as substations, the number of trained persons available shall be sufficient to ensure that a trained person can reach each employee exposed to electric shock within four minutes. If the existing number of employees is insufficient to meet this requirement, each employee at the work location shall be a trained employee.

In addition to training for First Aid/CPR/AED, the bloodborne pathogens standard at 29 CFR 1910.1030(g)(2) requires employers to provide training to any employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. This includes employees assigned medical or first aid duties by their employers.

How to Complete First Aid Training in Your Facility

There are many easy and comprehensive options available to complete this training. Some of these options may include:

  • Traditional On-site Class: This option provides an ideal training solution for workplaces that want or are required to learn how to respond to medical emergencies with in-person training content and skills verification. This option will include an on-site class and skills verification with an instructor, associated equipment, and a certification.
  • Blended Learning Course: This option is the perfect combination of online content and in-person skills sessions that make scheduling and administering your First Aid, CPR, and AED compliance training easy.
  • Remote Skills Verification: This option is the perfect combination of cognitive learning with flexible and remote skills verification guided by a live, authorized instructor. This option will include a live online course and equipment to perform the skills verification.

Training your employees doesn’t need to be difficult. U.S. Compliance offers comprehensive training in all three of these formats. If you are interested in training or need assistance identifying if training is required at your site, contact U.S. Compliance.

Proactive Management of Ergonomic-Related Injuries: Employee Benefit and Company ROI

Ergonomic-related injuries have a dramatic effect on both employees and a business’ operations and bottom line. Understanding the potential ergonomic hazards present at a facility and having a comprehensive ergonomics program and strategy are foundational pillars in preventing injuries from occurring. This also helps to minimize the progression of minor issues into major injuries and manage injuries when they do occur. Having a plan and appropriate proactive control measures will guide operations in caring for their valuable personnel and produce a positive Return-On-Investment (ROI) for implemented strategies.

Caring for Employees

While the bottom line is always a consideration for an employer, the overall purpose of instituting an ergonomics or injury prevention program is to take care of people and send them home at the end of the day in a similar manner to which they arrived. As decent humans, nobody wants to see a person get hurt or witness the rippling impacts on an injured person, the injured person’s family, and the burden on the healthcare system. Identifying and correcting ergonomic hazards—before they occur—should always be the priority.

The encouraging news associated with proactively managing developing injuries is that there are positive impacts (which are often non-tangible or difficult to quantify) for both the employer and employees. Implementing a program that focuses on improving and reducing ergonomic hazards to prevent injuries from occurring not only protects employees but develops a positive safety culture in the workplace. The demonstration of care builds both culture and loyalty to the company. This typically aids in increasing quality of work, improving morale, and generally lowering workplace stress factors. From a hands-on perspective, simply making the job more ergonomically correct also optimizes productivity and improves general wellness because the tasks will cause less physical stress on the body.

Unfortunately, it is typically impossible to remove all hazards, so to some degree, ergonomic injuries are bound to occur. Workplace Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) tend to be cumulative in nature, in that extended exposure to hazards will progressively make a developing injury more severe and more difficult to manage. With absolute certainty, early intervention will prevent the development of more serious injuries. Experienced healthcare providers will state that early intervention or proactive care is typically more effective with both better and faster results in lieu of waiting for an injury to develop and become more severe.

The Costs of Injury

With employee care being paramount, there will realistically be direct impacts and costs associated when an employee is injured. With healthcare costs soaring, the total estimated cost (including wage losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, and employer costs but excluding property damage) of a work-related injury in 2020 was $44,000 per medically consulted injury as per the National Safety Council (with the cost of a fatality averaging $1,310,000). While this average can be further teased apart by parts of the body affected, cause, and nature of the injury, in general, the impact of an injury at a facility is often underappreciated, and simple calculations can demonstrate the impact on the bottom line.

If a particular business were to have 10 injuries in a year that required medical consultation, the cost would be $440,000 (or 10 x $44,000). Assuming a 10% profit margin for that business, that means an extra $4.4 million in sales would be needed just to break even from the costs of injuries. That is a significant amount of capital that could potentially have been repurposed into injury prevention measures that would have also had non-tangible benefits for the business.

Beyond the high costs of an injury, when an injury requires medical consultation, most of those injuries become recordable injuries under OSHA’s Recordkeeping Regulation (29 CFR 1904). Most business managers will be familiar with those requirements and their impacts as the MOD rate associated with Workers’ Compensation insurance is directly connected to recordable injury numbers in relation to other businesses in similar industries. Further, when these injuries are reported to OSHA (either through Severe Injury Reporting Requirements, through Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) records requests, or through OSHA’s electronic submission of records requirements by March 2nd of each year), high injury rates can flag a business and increase the probability of a targeted regulatory inspection.

While the direct costs of injuries are quantifiable numbers, the impact on the employees and resulting impact on the business is much more difficult to quantify but should still be considered. Productivity loss is a loose term that can be used to describe other non-tangible business impacts, such as the costs associated with diminshed productivity or the decrease in quality resulting from new and/or less efficient workers needed to replace the injured person. Temporary or new employees are just not as effective as trained employees and may also cause other interpersonal or cultural disruptions in the facility culture. These factors also need to be considered in the larger context of the cost of an injury to a business.

Strategies for Prevention and ROI

The first step in building the business case for implementing a comprehensive ergonomics program is to properly understand the need. This will provide guidelines for the level of intervention most appropriate for the facility. First, estimating the true cost (both direct and indirect costs) of an injury by calculating the additional sales needed will yield a picture of the direct impact on the business.


Pending results, understanding both the direct and indirect costs of an injury and obtaining buy from the facility leadership become critical before implementing the initial stages of an ergonomics program. If senior leadership does not buy into building a proactive culture, efforts to create improvement will often be ineffective. Key elements of a proactive safety culture may include employee empowerment to express safety concerns (in non-retaliatory ways), encouraging the early reporting of symptoms of injury, and having an engaged safety committee. These are all indicators of a safety culture supported by facility leadership (note: most of these elements should be part of the facility’s Injury & Illness Prevention Program, MN AWAIR Program, Accident Prevention Program, etc.).

With the presence of proactive safety culture, the rollout of an ergonomics program addressing the facility’s specific needs will be more effective. The primary pillar of a program is to understand where key ergonomic hazards are present in the facility. Understanding where and when employees encounter ergonomic hazards (i.e., force, repetition, awkward posture, duration, and environment) will increase awareness of these potential hazards and lead to personnel subconsciously protecting themselves. Understanding these hazards typically results from conducting proper facility assessments/screenings followed by training personnel to recognize hazards.

While various ergonomic screenings are available on the market, U.S. Compliance utilizes a basic screening form as part of our standard ergonomics program. This screening form is intended as a high-level screening to identify key hazards and can be rolled out either by an EHS professional or through Safety Committee level employees. Oftentimes, and for more significant hazards or processes in which capital investments may be needed, an Advanced Ergonomics Screening that provides an in-depth assessment, a summary of hazards, and a quantified risk assessment may be justified (this level of screening is more complex and needs to be completed by an Ergonomics Specialist). Regardless of the screening type, the hazards identified need to be assessed for risk, and appropriate corrections must be implemented.

Following the facility assessment and identification of key ergonomic hazards, employees need to be trained to recognize ergonomic hazards and concepts of back-injury prevention. Employees need to understand that regardless of screening and improvements made in the facility, it is not possible to eliminate all hazards completely. Recognizing hazards and protecting oneself when possible will always be a key component in reducing injury potential.

Additional components of an ergonomics program should also include a Seated or Desk Worker Screening Process since it’s easy to forget about office personnel who also have significant ergonomic hazards from prolonged sitting and computer work. Also, considering ergonomics in the planning phases for new equipment, line set-up, or new procedures is critical in reducing the introduction of new hazards into the process. Remember, it will always be easier and more efficient to address potential issues prior to the installation of a new process or equipment. Also, ongoing monitoring and periodic re-assessments of hazards need to occur to stay on top of developing issues.

For many facilities managing all of the steps of a comprehensive ergonomics program, the complexity may require advanced knowledge of ergonomic controls to determine the most cost-effective improvements. Retaining an ergonomics professional for ongoing support may be a solid strategy, especially in multifaceted environments. While U.S. Compliance has an ergonomics subscription model for this type of support, various providers are available who can provide any or all of the elements of a program, depending upon facility needs.

At times, it will realistically be impractical to reduce or engineer out ergonomic hazards. Despite best intentions, comprehensive screening, and employee training, some hazards will still exist that cannot be controlled appropriately. In these circumstances, it becomes critical to implement a program to manage the development of injuries when they do occur. As discussed above, early intervention is critical in these circumstances.

Over the last decade, a new strategy has emerged that brings on-site care providers into facilities to proactively manage developing injuries. While these programs can have a significant upfront investment, ROI with these programs is frequently in the 6 to 10 range. While this level of ROI sounds unbelievable, it has been demonstrated as a common range after experience in a large number of programs through multiple vendors. When employees are able to conveniently see a provider on-site—before it is a significant issue—they get better, and the injury often does not progress to the point of needing medical consultation or becoming a recordable-level injury.

Beyond injury prevention, employees look at this as an added benefit of employment at the company, which can also be postured for retention of talent, decreased turnover, and aids in almost all of the previously identified non-tangible benefits of a comprehensive ergonomics program. However, caution is needed while rolling out an on-site care program as this is a ballooning industry and many providers are entering the field without proper knowledge or processes. A vetted vendor is critical to properly manage cases and have structure to ensure that treatment does not cross the line into creating recordable injuries. Documentation and understanding what can and cannot be done is vital and reputable vendors will have the processes and protocols in place to ensure these lines are not crossed.


Implementing a comprehensive ergonomics program at a facility will have a dramatic impact on proactively managing injuries at any facility, regardless of size or industry. In the current work environment, taking care of hard-to-find quality employees is a necessity and fortunately, doing so will typically have a positive ROI and impact on a company’s bottom line. However, understanding what controls and processes are appropriate for a particular facility can become complex. While an experienced ergonomics professional can aid or streamline this process, the basic steps to roll out a program include:

  1. Build a proactive safety culture
  2. Implement a comprehensive ergonomics program
  3. Screen all significant jobs/tasks/positions for ergonomic hazards
  4. Implement controls for easy and high-risk hazards
  5. Train employees to recognize ergonomic hazards and back-injury prevention
  6. Implement a seated/desk worker ergonomics assessment process
  7. Consider ergonomics while planning phases of new equipment and processes
  8. Consider on-site care providers if hazards are persistent or cannot be adequately controlled

Get guidance on how to improve your facility’s ergonomic programs with help from U.S. Compliance. Our expert team is equipped with the best practices and systems for facilities of various industries. Visit our website or contact us today.