From OSHKY Knowledge Library

There are various directives issued based on OSHA's Directives System that give specifics on how to conduct certain inspections or treat certain types of hazards and situations. If an inspection involves a standard or topic that a directive addresses, that directive should be considered during the course of the inspection.

Types of Directives

OSHA produces different types of directives, categorized as either national directives or regional directives. KYOSH is rarely affected by regional directives. However, national directives frequently apply.

National directives are divided into three types: Instructions, Notices, and Directions.

Instructions: "Long-term policy and procedure pronouncements that have continuing reference value. They are intended to be in effect for more than one year."

Notices: "Short-term policy and procedure pronouncements that are not to remain in effect over one year. Notices may be used to cancel an existing OSHA Instruction or Notice; such cancellations are permanent and do not expire at the end of that year."

Directions: "Time-sensitive policy and procedure pronouncements that must be issued quickly to take effect when a policy or procedural change must be communicated quickly."

In light of the above information, Instructions are of most use by CSHOs.

Classification & Numbering of Directives


Instructions have three levels of classification codes — primary, secondary, and tertiary — and then a sequential number at the end. Each level is separated by a dash, including the sequential number.

The primary level consists of a three-letter designation in all caps, such as CPL. OSHA uses a total of 14 primary codes. The entire list can be seen here under "V. Major Changes." Here is a list of the ones you'll most likely run into:

  • ADM: Administrative Management
  • CPL: Enforcement and Compliance
  • CSP: Cooperative and State Programs, including partnership programs.
  • TED: Training and Education

[TODO: Proceed next to Appendix A of ADM-03-00-007]

Action Words in Standards


  • will/not
  • shall/not
  • may not


  • should/not