OSHA reports on state-run occupational safety and health programs (9/28)
"Our goal is to identify problems in state-run programs before they result in serious injuries or fatalities," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "While we found many positives in the state programs, we also found deficiencies including concerns about identification of hazards, proper classification of violations, proposed penalty levels, and failure to follow up on violations to ensure that workplace safety and health problems are corrected."
The EFAME report and appendices for each of the 25 states, as well as each state's comment and fiscal year 2009 self-evaluation report, are now available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/efame/index.html.
States will have 30 days to provide a formal response, including a detailed corrective action plan for addressing findings and recommendations. Each state's formal response will be public information and available online as soon as it is received.
The EFAME review also identified areas where states have adopted standards and procedures exceeding federal OSHA's requirements, such as injury and illness prevention programs in California, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and other states; the adoption of a cranes and derricks rule prior to OSHA's in North Carolina, Washington and Maryland; and Oregon's requirement that employers abate serious workplace violations during the contest period, a legal tool under consideration in Congress but still lacking in federal OSHA.
The review of the Hawaii program highlights significant performance problems resulting from staffing and funding cutbacks. OSHA is addressing these problems directly with the governor's office and has offered to provide supplemental federal enforcement assistance until the state can address its problems. If Hawaii is unable to present a reasonable strategy for expeditiously improving its worker safety and health oversight, consideration will be given to the state's current authority to operate its own program independently and could result in a federal takeover.
"We recognize that some of the problems we identified could stem from significant budget constraints in many of the states and may also be the result of less intensive federal oversight in recent years," Michaels added. "OSHA, through its regional offices, intends to provide assistance in the implementation of corrective actions and will work closely with state officials to review progress. We are confident that by working together to address identified problems, we can improve state operations and provide more consistent protection to all of America's workers."
The 25 states and territories evaluated are Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. No reports are being issued on the Nevada and Illinois state plans; a special study was issued on the Nevada state plan in October 2009, and the Illinois state plan was not approved until September 2009. The status of each state's efforts to improve its plans will be reflected in the fiscal year 2010 Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation report expected in 2011. For more information about those states operating their own plans, visit http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/index.html.