Are You in Compliance with OSHA’s Poster Requirements?

By Roy Maurer Feb 4, 2015
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Employers are required to display a poster prepared by the Occupational Safety and Health Admini​​stration (OSHA) that informs workers of the protections afforded them under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.

The poster must be displayed in a conspicuous place where employees can view it. Private employers may use the actual poster provided for free by OSHA, or a suitable reproduction or facsimile. Previous versions of the poster are allowed. Employers in states with an OSHA-approved plan may have a state version of the OSHA poster.

“The OSHA poster clearly lists the workers’ safety rights, as established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act. It also includes information that may be useful to an employee if he or she feels like the workplace is in violation of regulations,” said Marie Athey, environmental health and safety director at 360training.com, a provider of online health and safety training.

“In other words, the OSHA poster exists to help protect the employee. No employee should ever be forced to work in unsafe or unsanitary conditions without training and protection. The OSHA compliance poster also exists, in part, to remind employers of their obligation to this end.”

The poster must state that for assistance and information—including copies of the OSH Act and of specific safety and health standards—employees should contact the employer or the nearest office of the Department of Labor.

“Often, this poster can be found in a break room or a common area where employees come and go. Employers should ensure that this poster is placed where employees can see it—whether on a jobsite or in a manufacturing facility,” said Athey. It must be physically posted. There is no provision for maintaining an OSHA poster in an electronic format.

The poster is available in several languages, although OSHA only requires employers to post the English version, said Athey. Federal OSHA’s workplace poster is also available in Chinese, Korean, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.

“OSHA encourages companies to display the poster in other languages, particularly Spanish, but does not penalize companies who only post the English version,” she said.

Beware of Scams

Some private companies sell a version of the OSHA poster, but it’s not necessary to buy as the agency provides them free of charge.

In some cases, individuals have fraudulently identified themselves as OSHA representatives and threatened to fine employers that do not buy their OSHA posters. “We continue to learn of complaints from employers who have received ‘official looking’ announcements and in some cases, threatening notices, messages or telephone calls from various companies requiring that employers purchase OSHA documents from them in order to remain in compliance with OSHA rules and regulations,” the agency said. The most popular document being offered for sale is the OSHA Workplace Poster.

“It’s important that employers do not become victim of misleading solicitation practices or incur unnecessary costs where these resources are concerned,” OSHA said.

If found in this situation, OSHA asks that you file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

You can also contact any OSHA area office nationwide to report a misleading solicitation, or to get information on specific workplace safety and health requirements.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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