Are the Self-Employed Exempt From OSHA?


Self-employed individuals often are exempt from federal mandates because the regulations frequently are intended to protect workers from potential abuse or unfavorable working conditions. Moreover, the programs required by these regulations are often quite costly, and to administer them for one person could be extremely burdensome for a small business.

What is OSHA?

  • OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which became law in 1970. The act was passed to establish minimum safety standards to ensure workers work in a safe and healthy work environment. The act also created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration division of the Department of Labor, which enforces OSHA’s provisions and continues to develop and research best practices in occupational safety.

Self-Employed OSHA Requirements

  • OSHA does not apply to employers who do not have employees. Accordingly, a self-employed individual would not be required to comply with OSHA requirements. Because a self-employed individual does not have employees, the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration has no jurisdiction over the self-employed individual.

Private Requirement of OSHA Compliance

  • If a self-employed individual works at a client's work site, the client may privately negotiate and require the self-employed individual to comply with OSHA requirements. This often occurs when the client is engaged in a hazardous activity, such as construction or manufacturing.

Growth of Self-Employed Business

  • If a self-employed individual begins to grow his business, he should be aware that OSHA compliance is triggered when employing 10 or more employees. Once he has hit that threshold, there are record-keeping and notice requirements he must meet. He also must maintain basic safety and workplace standards that vary depending on the industry.

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