This question, at times, can really make a difference with how you proceed. Where you get your information, and, more importantly, who provides the information is essential. Not only for compliance, but also for how your employees are protected.

Unfortunately, the answer is often complicated.

To address this question, the answer is YES. They all might overlap depending on what you are doing, and in what situation. I will attempt to briefly summarize when each specific rule or standard might apply.

  • OSHA – if you have employees and they work for you – you must comply. Sometimes each state (Washington, California, Oregon all have their own) may have a specific rule that enforces a bit differently, but Federal OSHA is the minimum rule.
  • MSHA – if you are operating in a mine (surface or underground) they have jurisdiction. Your shop may (or may not) be in their umbrella.
  • ACGIH – If they are referenced, it is usually a good practice to follow their rules. Look specifically at the date of the information. ACGIH updates their information yearly and is protective of the employee. Follow these rules if at all possible.
  • AIHA – Another good recommended source of information (like ACGIH). However, they just announce they will not be updating (due to funding) their WEELs and BEELs.
  • State rules – Occasionally, or more likely, depending on the specific issue, states will make specific rules. The Department of Human Services or similar will provide protective rules for the public. This may be an issue if your are working on a public project, or where small children, HUD, or other specific situations arise.
  • Local rules – Similar to the state rules, sometimes a city will make rules to protect it’s citizens. Being active in the local community is the easiest way to find these rules. Searching through the local city or county rules is a chore, but may reveal some obscure rules.

Finally, at more importantly, why are we looking at rules?

I would suggest focusing on employee health, employee concerns, best practices, and available data to best help our employees. They perform their jobs for a long duration in the day. They usually have the answer, or the best suggestion for fixing it…if we would listen.