Progress on Public Sector OSHA 

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By Joseph Smith

Progress on Public Sector OSHA 
One of MassCOSH’s historic victories is about to hit an exciting benchmark. In 2019, after over a decade of advocacy, MassCOSH and our allies secured the expansion of OSHA protections to approximately 430,000 Massachusetts State and Municipal workers when the Act to Further Define Standards of Employee Safety went into effect. The law required that the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) work with OSHA to obtain approval for a Public Sector Only State Plan for occupational safety and health for State and Municipal workers. DLS submitted a final draft of said plan to OSHA just a few weeks ago. OSHA approves and monitors all State Plans such as the one Massachusetts is establishing and provides as much as 50 percent of the funding for each state’s program. 22 states and territories have OSHA-approved State Plans, and five additional states and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans that cover state and local government workers only, similar to the plan Massachusetts is seeking. OSHA is now asking for public comment on its proposal to grant the Massachusetts State Plan initial approval based on its preliminary review that the plan meets OSHA’s State Plan approval criteria and that DLS has provided adequate assurances that the plan will be at least as effective as Federal OSHA in protecting the safety and health of Massachusetts State and Municipal workers. OSHA is also proposing to fund the initial approval of the Massachusetts State Plan from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget, saving the Commonwealth $1,250,000 in its efforts to preserve State and Municipal workers’ health.This plan is a huge step forward ensuring that Massachusetts has the strongest State Plan possible and that State and Municipal workers get the full protections OSHA affords! Comments are due on OSHA’s initial approval of the State Plan on August 1, and OSHA needs to hear from you. To submit comments, follow this link and click the green button that says “SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT.” MassCOSH has created a template here to allow our partners in the public sector who have been so vital in securing these protections to submit comments supporting OSHA’s preliminary approval and outlines some key issues DLS should address during the three-year “developmental” stage for the plan. Please check it out. 
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