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Safety Checklists for General Industry

Identify hazards and protect your workforce with these OSHA checklists for general industry operations.

The most widely accepted means to identify workplace hazards is to conduct safety and health audits. One way to help understand a given situation is to look at it on a periodic basis. A survey conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the late 1990s revealed that self-audits are performed for a number of reasons, with the three most common being:

  • Careful inspections can reduce injury and illness rates within the workplace by identifying present hazards.
  • Staying on top of potential hazards is considered the right thing to do by many employers.
  • Performing self-audits and acting upon any findings helps sustain compliance with OSHA regulations.

Routine self-audits are a cost-effective method of not only identifying safety hazards that need to be corrected, but also for helping ensure compliance with OSHA regulations. Costs associated with occupational safety and health hazards, beyond potential fines, can be reduced if hazards are corrected. Man-hours lost through workers’ compensation and sick leave can be reduced and productivity can remain high. Some insurance carriers in partnership with OSHA offer reduced premiums to employers who perform self-audits.

The most thorough means for performing a self-audit is to use a checklist for each work area. The size and diversity of the business dictates how many checklists are required and how much detail should be in each. While there is no standard checklist format, several key features should be included:

  • Name of auditor and date inspected
  • Description and specific regulatory citation for all pertinent regulations with a space to note deficiencies
  • A feasible completion date for deficiencies found
  • Initials and/or date when all corrections have been completed

Workplace Checklist

The following is an example of what a portion of a workplace OSHA checklist could look like for a flammable storage area. Appropriate components depend on individual situations.


Inspected By:
Date of Inspection:

(Circle all numbers with deficiencies)


  • Are approved containers and portable tanks used for the handling and storage of flammable and combustible liquids? 29 CFR 1910.106(d)(2)
  • Are all connections on drums and combustible flammable liquid piping vapor and liquid tight? 29 CFR 1910.106(c)(3)
  • Are all flammable liquids kept in closed containers when not in use? 29 CFR 1910.106(e)(2)(iv)(a)
  • Are bulk drums of flammable liquids grounded and bonded to containers during dispensing? 29 CFR 1910.106(e)(6)(ii)
  • Are safety cans used for dispensing flammable or combustible liquids? 29 CFR 1910.106(d)(5)(iii)
  • Are storage tanks adequately vented to prevent the development of excessive vacuum or pressure as a result of filling, emptying or atmosphere temperature changes? 29 CFR 1910.106(b)(4)(ii)
  • Are portable tanks equipped with emergency venting to relieve internal pressure from exposure to fire? 29 CFR 1910.106(d)(2)(ii)
  • Are storage cabinets that store flammable liquids labeled “Flammable, Keep Fire Away”? 29 CFR 1910.106(d)(3)(ii)
  • Are flammable liquids stored in approved safety cans? 29 CFR 1910.106(d)(2); 29 CFR 1910.144(a)(1)
  • Are no smoking rules enforced in areas for storage and use of hazardous materials? 29 CFR 1910.106(e)(9)

Fire Extinguishers

  • Are appropriate fire extinguishers mounted, located and identified so that they are readily accessible to employees? 29 CFR 1910.157(c)(1)
  • Are all fire extinguishers inspected and recharged regularly, and marked on inspection tags? 29 CFR 1910.157(e)
  • Is there an adequate number of portable fire extinguishers and of the proper type? 29 CFR 1910.157(d)
  • For a fixed extinguishing system, is a sign posted warning of the hazards presented by the extinguishing medium? 29 CFR 1910.160(b)(5)


  • Are exits properly marked? 29 CFR 1910.37(q)
  • Do exit signs have an illumination of at least 5 foot-candles? 29 CFR 1910.37(q)(6)
  • Are exits maintained free of obstructions? 29 CFR 1910.36(d)(1)

Correction completion date:
Corrections have been completed (initials and date):

Regulations and Record Keeping Standards

Below are two lists. The first highlights major General Industry regulations that are relevant to most work areas. The second lists standards that require a written plan or program to be in place when applicable. These lists may not be all-inclusive and may not apply to all work areas.

Work Areas

All work areas should be identified. Within these locations, consider the applicability of each section of the OSHA standards from Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR):

  • Aisles, stairways and ladders 
    see 1910.21 to 1910.30
  • Number and ease of access to exits within each area and emergency plans 
    see 1910.33 to 1910.39
  • Lifting platforms 
    see 1910.66 to 1910.68
  • Ventilation, noise and radiation 
    see 1910.94 to 1910.98
  • Storing and handling of hazardous materials 
    see 1910.101 to 1910.126
  • Eye protection, protective clothing, respiratory protection, head protection, foot protection, electrical protective equipment and hand protection 
    see 1910.132 to 1910.139
  • Spill cleanup, safe disposal requirements, permit-required confined spaces and lockout/tagout 
    see 1910.141 to 1910.147
  • First aid availability and training 
    see 1910.151 to 1910.152
  • Fire extinguishers, fixed fire-suppression equipment and other systems 
    see 1910.155 to 1910.165
  • Air receiver installation and safety 
    see 1910.166 to 1910.169
  • Use and care of forklifts, cranes, derricks, helicopters and slings 
    see 1910.176 to 1910.184
  • Guard requirements for moving machinery 
    see 1910.211 to 1910.219
  • Guarding and maintenance of hand-powered equipment 
    see 1910.241 to 1910.244
  • Oxygen-fuel, arc and resistance welding requirements 
    see 1910.251 to 1910.255
  • Special industries 
    see 1910.261 to 1910.272
  • Design safety standards, safe work practices and maintenance requirements 
    see 1910.301 to 1910.399
  • Toxic and hazardous substances 
    see 1910.1000 to 1910.1499

Record Keeping

In addition to a work area checklist, written programs, plans and procedures are often required by OSHA. The following standards require a written plan or program to be in place where applicable:

Emergency Action Plan 1910.38
Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals 1910.119
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response 1910.120
Respiratory Protection 1910.134
Permit-Required Confined Spaces 1910.146
The Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) 1910.147
Employee Alarm Systems 1910.165
Powered Industrial Trucks  1910.178
Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution 1910.269
Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices 1910.333
Subpart Z: Specific Chemical Substances 1910.1000 to 1910.1018, 1910.1025 to 1910.1029 and 1910.1043 to 1910.1096
Bloodborne Pathogens  1910.1030
Hazard Communication 1910.1200
Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories 1910.1450
Posting Job Safety and Health Poster Form 3165
OSHA Forms for Recording Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses 300 Log

Creating and maintaining a checklist for General Industry operations is by no means the final step. When beginning a safety audit program, several ideas should be kept in mind. A team approach to safety is most effective; rotating people on and off the team will keep ideas fresh and enhance perspective. Inspect thoroughly and frequently; any area, regardless of size, can pose hazards that can crop up seemingly overnight. Once hazards are identified, have a system in place for correction.

Commonly Asked Questions
Q: Are self-inspections necessary?
A: Yes. Self-inspections are essential. The only way to be certain of an actual situation is to look at it directly from time to time. Businesses must know where probable hazards exist and whether they are under control.


29 CFR 1910

OSHA Small Business Handbook / Small Business Safety and Health Management Series / OSHA 2209-02R 2005pixel

(Rev 3.3.15)

Find even more information you can use to help make informed decisions about the regulatory issues you face in your workplace every day. View all Quick Tips Technical Resources at www.grainger.com/quicktips.

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DISCLAIMER:The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This publication is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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