Who is Not Covered by OSHA?

Who is Not Covered by OSHA

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was created to protect employees’ rights to work in safe and healthy environments. You might be wondering, who does OSHA apply to? To ensure employees can work in safe workplaces, OSHA coverage regulates employers. Employers are regulated by regulations called standards. Standards are regulations associated with a particular area of safety. 

For example, there is a bloodborne pathogens standard. This standard requires employers to implement measures that reduce employee exposure to blood and other potentially infectious material. The standard applies to any employer whose operations might involve such exposure. Most private sector employers and private sector employees are regulated by OSHA. There are a number of exceptions. The topic of who is not covered by OSHA is discussed below.

Who is Not Covered by OSHA: Certain Employers

Under the OSH Act, an employer is anyone who is engaged in business affecting interstate commerce (commerce between two or more states) and who has employees. Most employers are engaged in business affecting interstate commerce. “Business affecting interstate commerce” can be as simple as an employer in one state ordering supplies from another state, or simply discussing business with a company in another state.

Employers and businesses that are not covered by OSHA include family farms, and industries that are regulated by a federal agency other than the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Family-owned farms that employ only immediate family members are not covered under the OSH Act. Family-owned farms are specifically exempted from coverage, even though they typically engage in business affecting interstate commerce and have employees.

Many federally regulated industries are not covered by the OSH Act. This is because another agency is responsible for regulating that industry. For example, the mining industry, regulated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and airports, regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, are not regulated by OSHA. 

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Who is Not Covered by OSHA: Certain Workers

Self-employed workers, independent contractors, volunteers, and interns all fall under the category of who is not regulated by OSHA coverage.

Self-employed workers – Individuals who are the sole proprietor and employee of their company – are neither regulated by the OSHA Act, nor covered by its worker protections. A business must have at least two employees (one of which can be the employer) to be covered under OSHA.

Independent contractors are not covered by OSHA. Independent contractors perform work for a company, under an agreement setting forth the scope of that work, without actually being employed by the company. To qualify as an independent contractor (as opposed to an employee), someone must generally be able to set their own hours, and determine how the work is to be performed.

Interns are not covered by OSHA, provided the intern is not serving as a replacement for employees, is not paid, and is closely supervised. In addition, the internship program must offer training similar to that provided by a vocational school. The internship must be for the intern’s benefit; if an employer is obtaining monetary benefit from the internship, the intern and the employer may potentially be subject to OSHA.

Volunteers are not covered by OSHA. Volunteers are those individuals who work for charitable, humanitarian, and religious organizations. Volunteers perform their work duties without any promise, expectation, or payment of compensation.