The process for state OSHA programs to make changes to their occupational safety and health plans, including legislation and standards, is being streamlined by federal OSHA.

A revised regulation was developed through a joint federal/state plan process, which included discussions at meetings of the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association. OSHA published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on November 6, 2001.

Reducing paperwork is a priority. OSHA will now require states to submit written supplements only when the state change is different from the federal program.

Other procedural changes include: streamlining the federal review and approval of plan supplements, and seeking public comment if a state plan change differs significantly from the comparable federal program component.

Federal Register approval notices will be published only for different plan changes. The final rule revises 29 CFR Part 1953 by reorganizing the regulation to eliminate repetitive language as well as streamlining the process for changes.

The regulatory change also includes an explicit statement of OSHA's longstanding statutory interpretation that states may modify their state plans by adopting and implementing new legislation, regulations, standards policies or procedures, under state law - prior to federal review and approval.

There are now 26 approved state plans.

Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming have plans covering private and public sector employment.

Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have State plans covering only the public sector.