Federal Safety Act Affects Both Employers, Workers
Industrial Fire Safety
The Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 has a far-reaching effect on the American worker and his employer because it imposes mandatory safety and health standards on industry and business. This legislation covers fire prevention and protection and needs to be brought to the attention of industry and business as the only employers exempted are the United States, state and local governments and those covered under earlier federal occupational safety and health laws.
The purpose of the act is to assure “healthful working conditions … by encouraging employers and employees in their efforts to reduce the number of occupational safety and health hazards . . . and to stimulate employers and employees to institute new and to perfect existing programs for providing safe and healthful working conditions.” The act also states that “employers and employees have separate but dependent responsibilities and rights with respect to achieving safe and healthful working conditions” and authorizes the secretary of labor to establish “mandatory occupational safety and health standards applicable to business affecting interstate commerce.”
Under the act, an employer must keep his place of employment free from recognized hazards that may cause death or serious injury and must comply with safety and health standards promulgated under the act. Each employee also must comply with the safety and health standards provided for his welfare.
Last May 29, Part 1910, Occupational Safety and Health Standards, appeared in Part 2 of the Federal Register and involved national consensus standards and established federal standards. Consensus standards were defined as “occupational safety and health standards adopted and promulgated either by the American National Standards Institute … or by the National Fire Protection Association.” The effective date of Part 1910 was August 27.
NFPA standards adopted: Therefore, many NFPA standards have been adopted, with parts of others (such as NFPA 101, Life Safety Code), as consensus standards. Among these are:
No. 10, Portable Fire Extinguishers, 1970; No. 11, Foam Extinguishing Systems, 1970; No. 12, Carbon Dioxide Extinguishing Systems, 1968; No. 13, Sprinkler Systems, 1969; No. 14, Standpipes and Hose Systems, 1970; No. 15, Water Spray Fixed Systems, 1969; No. 17, Dry Chemical Extinguishing Systems, 1969; No. 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code, 1969; No. 33, Spray Finishing, 1969; No. 34, Dip Tanks, 1966; No. 37, Stationary Combustion Engines and Gas Turbines, 1970; No. 50A, Gaseous Hydrogen Systems, 1965; No. 50B, Liquefied Hydrogen Systems, 1968; No. 51B, Cutting and Welding Processes, 1962; No. 54, Gas Appliances and Gas Piping, 1969.
Also, No. 54A, Gas Piping and Equipment on Industrial Premises, 1969; No. 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gases, 1969; No. 70, National Electrical Code, 1968; No. 72A, Local Protective Signaling Systems, 1967; No. 78, Lightning Protection Code, 1968; No. 86A, Ovens and Furnaces, 1969; No. 91, Blower and Exhaust Systems, 1969; No. 96, Ventilation of Cooking Equipment, 1970; No. 220, Standard Types of Building Construction, 1969; No. 231, Indoor General Storage, 1970; No. 490, Storage of Ammonium Nitrate, 1970; No. 492, Separation Distances of Ammonium Nitrate and Blasting Agents, 1968; No. 495, Explosives and Blasting Agents, 1970; No. 505, Powered Industrial Trucks, 1969; and No. 566, Bulk Oxygen Systems, 1965.
Required knowledge: As we have stated many times, all 10 volumes of NFPA codes are required knowledge for any fire protection engineer or anyone else involved in fire prevention and protection. Without them by your side for guidance, you will have little chance of complying with the new federal standards and avoiding stiff fines and possible jail sentences.
The provisions of the act will be carried out by federal occupational safety and health inspectors working out of many offices throughout the country.
The act permits states to enter into agreements with the Department of Labor to continue state programs for worker protection. It is believed that 42 states have agreements under which they will continue to enforce state and local occupational safety and health standards while developing plans for full participation under the act.
Enforcement of the fire and safety regulations may be done by inspectors at reasonable times without appointments. Inspections are made in the company of an employer or his representative and an employee or his representative. When any one employer can expect an inspection is anybody’s guess because of the number of inspections to be made. However, if an employee complaint of hazardous conditions is filed, then an immediate inspection will be made. So you see it behooves us all to prepare now for compliance with NFPA and federal standards.
We recommend that you obtain Part 2 of the Federal Register for last May 29 by sending 20 cents to the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.