Familiarize Yourself With OSHA Docs

SHUTTERSTOCK / INSEMAR.DRAWINGS
SHUTTERSTOCK / INSEMAR.DRAWINGS

The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) lists various Occupational Safety and Health Administration documents as reference material for all levels in the Fire Alarm Systems certification program. OSHA document, 29 CFR 1926, “Safety and Health Regulations for Construction,” may be used as a reference during the exam for Level I of the Inspection and Testing of Fire Alarm Systems certification program.

Here is a list of the OSHA documents referenced and the certification levels they are listed in.

  • OSHA 29 CFR 1904: Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness (Fire Alarm Systems Levels II and III)
  • OSHA 29 CFR 1910: Occupational Safety and Health Standards (Fire Alarm Systems Levels I, II, III and IV)
  • OSHA 29 CFR 1926: Safety and Health Regulations for Construction (Fire Alarm Systems Levels I, II and III) (allowed in test for Inspection and Testing Level I)
  • OSHA Resource for Development and Delivery of Training to Workers (3824-08)(2015) (Fire Alarm Systems Level IV)

These documents are free to read and download. There are no restrictions on the republication of material appearing in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). NICET had a link to OSHA 29 CFR 1926 on its website that takes you to www.govinfo.gov. Since you can’t take an OSHA document into most of the tests, you should review the requirements prior to test day if you plan to get a NICET certification.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no requirements specifically intended for fire alarm systems. OSHA is concerned with job site safety, so that is what you should be concerned about as it relates to fire alarms. These regulations are intended to ensure employers provide safeguards for employee safety. For example, if you must install smoke detectors on a 12-foot ceiling, you should not be standing on the very top of a 6-foot ladder. OSHA provides information on ladder use and other safety items, such as hearing protection when sound levels exceed certain thresholds for specific periods of time. This information can be found in 29 CFR 1926.52 in Table D-2, Permissible Noise Exposures. For example, exposure to more than 95 decibels (measured on the A scale of a sound level meter using the slow setting) for more than 4 hours would require appropriate hearing protection. This could be a problem when testing fire alarm horns. There is also information about fire prevention and protection in the facility, exit routing and emergency planning.

No one should have to work in unsafe, unclean or dangerous locations. There are regulations that cover contaminants in the air, sanitation, illumination, ventilation, etc. OSHA covers first aid and eye, head, hand and foot protections. There is plenty of material on electrical safety.

I think back to when I was installing fire alarm systems and some of the unsafe things I either personally chose to do or was told to do. It’s a wonder I am here today.

We all know the best way to do a job is to use the right tools. OSHA documents cover that, to an extent. Obviously, each type of tool has different safety considerations. If you are using a tool and something doesn’t feel adequately safe, it probably isn’t.

Don’t try this at home

I have seen people take the following unsafe actions on a job site: crawling on top of air conditioning duct work to reach a duct smoke detector, standing on the railing of a high reach 40 feet in the air to access a beam smoke detector, riding on top of elevator cars to test smoke detectors in an elevator hoistway and then stepping from one car to another at the top of the hoistway, standing on scaffolding without side rails or safety straps, and standing in water while working with electricity.

I have heard from many applicants that there are a number of OSHA questions in the fire alarm certification exams. Remember, you cannot bring the OSHA documents into most of the tests, so review some of the requirements before testing, and use common sense while answering. This strategy will go a long way toward your success.

About the Author
Tom Hammerberg

Thomas P. Hammerberg

Life Safety Columnist

Thomas P. Hammerberg, SET, CFPS is an indepe       ndent fire alarm presenter and consultant residing in Jasper, GA. Tom served on multiple NFPA technical committees as well as actively participating in the ICC code making process for many years. He...

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