OSHA Standards: The purpose of variances and why they are important

Prepare a report on the purpose of variances and why they are important. Use APA style format with a minimum of 1-2 pages of content.

The standards established under the umbrella of OSHA are all serving one major goal. That is safety. Many times it happens that fulfilling the requirements of a standard becomes the way to hard for the organizations due to certain reasons. In situations like this, comes the use of variances. In terms of OSHA, it can be defined as a regulatory action or an alternative procedure of compliance that allows the employer to deviate from the basic guidelines of an OSHA standard under particular conditions. Nevertheless, the basic aim of variance is the same as of standards. The variance does never completely provide full exemption from the standard except for in cases like national security. The employers may seek a variance for any company, organization, or workplace. The reasons for seeking variance can be diverse, for instance, inability to fulfill the standard due to newly established field, lack of personnel, lack of equipment, or time. One of the most conditions for the employer to fulfill is to ensure that the alternate equipment, human resource, materials, or structural support that he is adding must be equally competent in giving full protection and safety to its workers. The variance has several types depending upon the requirements and suitability of the company (OSHA).

Temporary Variance:

This kind of variance is only implemented in short-term cases. When the employer is unable to comply with OSHA requirements till set date, possibly due to construction obligations, structural alterations of the facility, unavailability of the materials, human resource, or event space. In this case, the person responsible must have a definite compliance plan executable in a designated span. He should have a solid reason for putting a variance application. Excuses like high costs for compliance are not eligible. OSHA needs to be given full trust that the program will ensure the complete safety of an organization’s employees.

Experimental Variance:

This is not a commonly sought variance. Employers demand a variance like this to experiment or validate improved methods, equipment, or techniques for safety temporarily. For more details as to what specific instruments and conditions is this variance applicable, refer to OSHA Act.

National Defense Variance:

Since the security of the state is a very sensitive matter and so is security, special security defense variance has been designed for this purpose. Under this variance, exemptions, tolerances, and fact-based variations are granted to secure the safety of the state. Even in this variation, duration of six months is allotted. After that, the case is open for a public hearing to address employees’ issues and incorporate their plausible suggestions (EHS, 2005).

Interim Order:

Not considered as a variance but it is the middle period between a grant of variance and the establishment of the organization that is granted by this order. The order permits the employer to continue operating under existing conditions until he/she seeks either a permanent or temporary variance. Once granted the employer is required to share a copy of this order with the workforce.

Permanent Variance:

In other words, it is basically the substitution of OSHA standard. Permanent variance ensures that the set program that is put forward is as competent in terms of safety equipment, handling, operations, and workforce as an original OSHA standard. When applying, it is the duty of the employer to share the terms and conditions he/she designated for the program with its employees. The granting company needs to ensure by either visiting or calling an interview. The employer has to explain how the conditions of the variance are different from the standard and why are they better. If the explanation succeeds, the employer is granted a variance.

The types of variance explain the basic purpose of every one of them. Their importance lies in the fact that they are the lifesavers in times when the actual standard is not implementable. It’s a friendly requisite and an alternative to OSHA standards. Seeking a variance is a win-win situation. It saves the employer from nerve-breaking tension of immediate standard implementation and also ensures safety in this interim period.

Hence in nutshell, the presence of variance ensures the implementation of safety and also indicates that safety cannot be risked at any level, in any workplace.


Administration, O. H. (n.d.). What is Variance? Retrieved from United States Department of Labor: https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/variance-factsheet.html

Labor, U. D. (n.d.). OSHA fact sheet, variances from OSHA standards. Retrieved from OSHA: https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/VarianceFactS.pdf

University, P. (n.d.). Variance from OSHA Standards. Retrieved from Environment Health and Safety: https://ehs.princeton.edu/node/564

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