OSHA Basics: The OSHA Field Operations Manual

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If you’re new to occupational safety and health, and/or new to OSHA, even the most basic things can be unfamiliar or confusing.

And that’s why we’ve created our OSHA Basics blog series–to help you get a foothold on some of these important topics.

In this article, we’re going to introduce to you the OSHA Field Operations Manual.

We’ve got a list of other OSHA Basics articles on different topics at the bottom of this article for you as well. Plus, because OSHA Inspectors use the Field Operations Manual during OSHA Workplace Inspections, we’ve included a free GUIDE TO OSHA INSPECTIONS for you at the bottom of this article.

Introduction to The OSHA Field Operations Manual

So what is the Field Operations Manual?

Here’s how OSHA explains its purpose:

To provide OSHA offices, State Plan programs and federal agencies with policy and procedures concerning the enforcement of occupational safety and health standards. Also, this instruction provides current information and ensures occupational safety and health standards are enforced with uniformity.

What does that mean? It means the Field Operations Manual is intended to give guidance to OSHA inspectors (and/or other OSHA personnel) on how to enforce OSHA’s occupational safety and health regulations in workplaces, including (but not limited to) how to create citations for violations.

The Field Operations Manual is sometimes referred to as the FMO because, you know, things have to have an acronym. 🙂

What Does the OSHA Field Operations Manual Cover?

It covers a lot, but here are some highlight that will probably catch your attention if you’re a safety manager under OSHA’s jurisdiction:

  • Chapter 3, Inspection Procedures
  • Chapter 4, Violations
  • Chapter 6, Penalties and Debt Collection
  • Chapter 7, Post-Citation Procedures and Abatement
  • Chapter 11, Imminent Danger, Fatality, Catastrophe, and Emergency Response

Who Is the Intended Audience (Reader) of the OSHA Field Operations Manual?

Well, the obvious answer here is that the OSHA Field Operations Manual was written for OSHA field personnel. After all, it’s a guide that tells OSHA personnel specifically how to apply OSHA regulations.

But if you’re responsible for occupational safety and health at your organization, you’d be missing a great opportunity to learn more and be better prepared if you didn’t realize how valuable the OSHA Field Operations Manual can be to you, too. Want to know exactly how something might be enforced? There’s a good chance it’s in there! Want to know exactly what will happen during an OSHA inspection? It’s it’s there.

In short, you might want to take that fascinating sci-fi novel off your bedside table, replace it with the OSHA Field Operations Manual, and get ready for some scintillating occupational safety and health reading before bedtime!

Conclusion: The OSHA Field Operations Manual

Hope you found this helpful, and we hope you enjoy reading (or at least skimming) the OSHA Field Operations Manual soon. If you’d like to study more from the other side of the coin, check out our Guide to OSHA Inspections.

You might also want to check out some of our other OSHA Basics articles (below):

Let us know if you’ve got a topic you’d like us to explore in our OSHA Basics series. The comments section below awaits you.

And before you leave, download our FREE GUIDE TO OSHA INSPECTIONS, below.


Free Download–Guide to OSHA Inspections

Download this free guide to OSHA workplace inspections.

Download Free Guide

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto

Jeffrey Dalto is an Instructional Designer and the Senior Learning & Development Specialist at Convergence Training. He's worked in training/learning & development for 25 years, in safety and safety training for more than 10, is an OSHA Authorized Outreach Trainer for General Industry OSHA 10 and 30, has completed a General Industry Safety and Health Specialist Certificate from the University of Washington/Pacific Northwest OSHA Education Center and an Instructional Design certification from the Association of Talent Development (ATD), and is a member of the committee creating the upcoming ANSI/ASSP Z490.2 national standard on online environmental, health, and safety training. Jeff frequently writes for magazines related to safety, safety training, and training and frequently speaks at conferences on the same issues, including the Washington Governor's Safety and Health Conference, the Oregon Governor's Occupational Safety and Health Conference, the Wisconsin Safety Conference, the MSHA Training Resources Applied to Mining (TRAM) Conference, and others.

2 thoughts on “OSHA Basics: The OSHA Field Operations Manual

  1. Im interested in becoming a osha safty officer..what steps do i need to take…i have 5 years experience in construction and abatement

    1. Mark, I’m not an expert on this particular topic, but I’d recommend you check with your local OSHA office (either the local federal OSHA office or your state OSHA office if you’re in a state-plan state).

      I can tell you that I’ve seen postings for OSHA officers (plus postings for similar officers up in British Columbia) and also that when I take courses on safety issues, I know I am often in class with OSHA personnel. In some cases, I think they’re experienced and are just continuing their education, but in other cases I think they may be new hires in a “training up” period.

      We wish you luck and hope you write back to tell us what you learned and how it goes.

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