The federal laws stated by the “Occupational Safety and Health Act” (OSHA), makes it mandatory for the employers to create a safe environment of working for the employees. Several states have their own laws for workplace safety. In order to abide by OSHA, employers are required to learn their obligations and also determine whether they need to abide by the state or federal laws. 

Depending on the state on which your company or business operates, it is determined whether you need to follow the sate or federal laws. This article mentions the state names that are governed by the state laws. The states not falling in that category need to follow the federal laws.

 The State Laws: 

OSHA, when passed, preempted all the state laws for occupational safety and health. At that time, every state had the choice to submit a plan to “Secretary of Labor” to get it approved. If the plan was found to be acceptable by the secretary, then the laws of the state were permitted to stand. In such states, referred to as the “state plan states”, employers must abide by the state’s standards, regulations and laws on workplace health and safety. The states do not require following the federal OSHA. 

The names of states falling in the category of “state plan states” are – Wyoming, Washington, Virginia, Vermont, Utah, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oregon, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Minnesota, Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky, Iowa, Indiana, Hawaii, California, Arizona and Alaska.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut also own workplace safety laws, but they are applicable to only the local and state government employees. Private employers are bound to follow the federal laws. 

In case your business runs in one of the states falling in the category of “state plan states”, you can gather information and details about the resources and laws of your state of the website of “U.S. department of Labor” at www.osha.gov. In the website, look for “State Occupational Safety and Health Plans”. 

If your business does not operate in one of the states listed above, then you must follow the federal OSHA. 

The Federal Laws: 

OSHA is applicable to everyone in a workplace. 

The rules of OSHA must be followed for each and every employee in your business, irrespective of the employee’s classification, status or title. This implies that the federal law is applicable to stockholders, partners, supervisors, mangers, officers, rank-and-file workers and the family members who are working in your business.

However, the law is not applicable to the family members of an operator of a farm and independent contractors. 

General rules of safety for all types of businesses: 

According to OSHA, the employers are required to maintain the workplace free from hazards, which they know about or should know, and which are likely to lead to or are leading to the occurrence of serious physical injuries or may prove to be fatal. Such hazards are known as “recognized hazards”. 

Hazards can be in the form of unsafe conditions such as broken equipment or toxic fumes. They can also be in the form of unsafe practices like operation of circular saws using one hand rather than using both hands, or push starting tractors. Hazards can be easily detected by walking around the workplace and utilizing the senses. For example, hazards can be detected by sight or smell. 

Your duty is also to ensure safety of employees when they are sent outside the workplace for any work. If the employees are being sent to a demolition or construction site, ensure it is a safe place. The tools and equipment used by the workers should be safe to use. 


This information would help you as an employer to determine which laws you are being governed by. Workplace safety is an extremely important factor, and you must abide by the laws, rules and regulations strictly. 


Author’s Bio: Alisa Martin, is a regular blogger, and has been authoring articles on various law topics for the past decade. She is a regular contributor to http://abinternationallaw.com/.