OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, works to provide a safe and healthy environment for all workers in the United States. OSHA regulations cover private sector employees, but not those in the public or non-profit sector. With churches, OSHA makes a distinction between the types of activities they perform. OSHA does not cover religious activities like worship services. But secular activities, like schools, daycares or bookstores operated by a church, must comply with OSHA regulations because they contribute to and affect the economic sector of U.S. society.
As with any type of business, churches conducting non-religious activities must have clearly labeled, unblocked fire exits, and fire extinguishers throughout the building. The exact number of exits and extinguishers depends on the size of the building. Church employees also must have a clearly outlined plan of escape in case a fire starts in the building. In addition, the church needs a written plan for how to handle and dispose of flammable materials within the building. If your church has a kitchen, OSHA requires smoke alarms.
The church must ensure that all employees or contractors hired to work on the physical upkeep of the church have the proper safety equipment and safe working areas. This includes but is not limited to yard work, remodeling and cleaning. Safety equipment includes protective items like gloves, earplugs, facial masks and protective eyewear. At least one employee must have first aid certification if a medical center is not close to the church.
All walking surfaces like hallways, passageways and stairwells must be kept clean, unblocked and orderly. OSHA requires that all stairways have hand rails and that storage rooms stay neat, clean and dry.
Ladders, power tools, lawnmowers and other devices must be in a good, stable working condition to support workers and avoid injury.
Chelsea Baldwin began writing professionally for local newspapers in 2008. She has published articles in “High Country Press” and “Kernersville News.” She also produced newsletters for a local chapter of AIESEC, a global nonprofit organization. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Appalachian State University.