OSHA Regulations on Outdoor Smoking Areas

Written by monty dayton
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OSHA Regulations on Outdoor Smoking Areas
OSHA smoking regulations apply to outdoor areas around businesses, as well as indoor areas. (sign. no smoking image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com)

Business owners must be up-to-date on regulations on outdoor smoking areas from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA has made great strides in identifying potential health risks posed by the inhalation of firsthand and second-hand tobacco smoke in public and private locations. While modern office buildings are regarded as generally safe for the public, a common complaint from employees concerns cigarette smoke sneaking indoors.

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Designated Smoking Areas

One of the major parts of OSHA regulation is the set-up of designated smoking ares. This was in response to a wide range of studies on the health effects of second-hand smoke. While many regulations were passed that prohibit smoking in government buildings or airports, OSHA also has rules about designated smoking areas around businesses. These designated areas are for employees who wish to smoke during break times, but OSHA enforces strict measures to reduce the risk of second-hand smoke exposure at doorways or entrances to buildings.

Designated Smoking Area Regulations

OSHA publishes the strict guidelines that are used in determining an acceptable outdoor smoking area. Specific OSHA regulations on outdoor smoking areas include information on covered canopies, waste bins and the necessary distance from the building's entrance. The area must be at a distance where air movement does not directly affect entryways,so that nonsmokers don't have to be exposed to the health risks of second-hand smoke. The area must be a safe distance away from air ducts, as well. Designated smoking areas must be well marked with proper OSHA-approved signage, and, if the area provides cover from wind and rain, the structure must be well ventilated.

History of OSHA Smoking Regulations

OSHA has acted over the past two decades on the many studies released revealing the full health effects of tobacco use around public buildings. Using these studies as a basis, administrators designed various revisions to OSHA regulations to create a more comprehensive outdoor code that covers outdoor smoking areas. OSHA is not only involved in helping to shape policy when it comes to smoking and smoking regulations in the workplace, but it also monitors businesses and helps enforce those legal regulations.

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