Pennsylvania-specific health and safety laws: a quick guide for small business

There are a number of federal laws and bureaucracies out there that regulate the health and safety practices of small and large businesses. These laws include the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But similar types of health and safety laws exist on the state level in Pennsylvania. Anyone doing business in the state should be aware of some of these laws and what they regulate.  Let’s take a quick look:

Here is a short list of some of the health and safety laws that exist in Pennsylvania:

  • Hazardous occupations laws
  • Occupational and industrial health and safety laws

Hazardous occupations health and safety laws

Under Pennsylvania law the owners of certain enterprises are deemed liable for accidents and injuries that occur to their employees unless they can overcome a presumption that they have not used reasonable care. In cases where the employee is found to be at fault damages are apportioned. Additionally, employers do not have the power to contract with employees to get out of liability from this act.

Just a few of the jobs covered by this act are:

  • Railroads
  • Generating and selling electricity
  • Blasting and dynamiting
  • Operating motor vehicles for public use

These laws can have great consequences for employers, so they should know if these laws apply to their enterprise.

Occupational and industrial safety

Pennsylvania has four laws that overlap and mirror the laws and regulations of the federal OSHA:

  • The Required Buildings Be Constructed to Be Usable by the Physically Handicapped Act
  • The Fire and Panic Act
  • The Bedding and Upholstery Act
  • The Stuffed Toy Manufacturing Act

The Required Buildings Be Constructed to Be Usable by the Physically Handicapped Act

  • This act, along with the Americans with Disabilities Act requires buildings to be designed with reasonable accommodations to disabled people to ensure access.

The Fire and Panic Act

  • This act regulates the safety of buildings and assesses fees and penalties for violations. It involves submitting business plans to trained examiners to make sure they are up to code.

The Bedding and Upholstery Act

  • This act requires that bedding materials such as blankets, sheets and pillows be made with clean, sterilized and new materials.

The Stuffed Toy Manufacturing Act

  • This act requires a manufacturer to register with the state and it ensures that stuffed toys are made free of dangerous or harmful substances.


Although there are federal laws that regulate the health and safety of certain enterprises, there are also many state laws that do the same. Depending on your industry, these laws could be very relevant to you, so check up on them and make sure you are in compliance. For more detailed information contact a local business attorney.[1]





[1] Petrus, Desiree and Warda, Mark, Start a Business in Pennsylvania 91-93 Sphinx Legal (2006) 4th edition