According to OSHA, What Is the Difference Between Vertical & Horizontal Standards?

by Scott Fendley; Updated September 26, 2017
Workers In Distribution Warehouse

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides a set of rules and regulations that govern health and safety practices in business and industry. It is important that all businesses, large and small, understand and follow these regulations and standards. There are two categories of standards -- vertical and horizontal.

OSHA Safety Standards Overview

OSHA standards cover a variety of health and safety issues, ensuring that employers take responsibility for protecting employees from harm in the workplace. For example, health standards may prevent workers from contracting infectious diseases; safety standards may help avoid accidents. Some standards are general while others focus on specific industries.

Vertical Standards

Vertical standards are those regulations that apply to a specific or limited number of industries and businesses. Examples of vertical standards are rules and regulations covering construction or the shipping industries. These standards are negotiated with industry groups themselves. Vertical standards impact not only their particular company, but the industry as a whole if the regulations are broken and safety concerns are made public.

Horizontal Standards

Horizontal regulations apply to all business and industry. Fire safety, first aid regulations and general workplace safety issues such as workplace surfaces are examples of horizontal regulations. These regulations were among those established by consensus of standard setting groups, taking input from a variety of businesses and industries. As with vertical regulations, these standards are important for all workplaces to follow, as worker injuries and the loss of business reputations could result.

Integrating Vertical and Horizontal Standards

Almost all workplaces have vertical standards to implement along with the horizontal standards. For example, restaurants follow the horizontal standards of fire safety, but they also follow specific vertical standards regarding open flames, food safety and public health. The same applies to construction. That industry has to follow the common horizontal regulations, but it has specific standards to follow on machinery, tools, ventilation and safety equipment. Knowing both types of standards is critical for business and industry to keep its workers safe and its reputation intact.

About the Author

Beginning his writing career in 1987, Scott Fendley is a development operations professional and consultant who was published in "Advancement Services, A Foundation of Fundraising," published by CASE. He has also written articles for "The Paper of Montgomery County" and the "Crawfordsville Journal-Review." Fendley graduated from Wabash College with a B.A. in Mathematics and has an M.B.A. from Indiana University.

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