Department of Labor Eyeing Arizona OSHA Plan After ‘Pattern of Failures’
The U.S. Department of Labor announced a proposal to reconsider and revoke final approval of Arizona’s State OSHA plan, which the department says is in response to nearly a long “pattern of failures” to adopt and enforce standards and enforcement policies that are at least as effective as those used by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
State plans are OSHA-approved job safety and health programs operated by states. The OSH Act encourages states to develop and operate their programs. OSHA approves and monitors all state plans, and provides up to 50% of each program’s funding.
According to the department, OSHA has grown increasingly concerned that actions by the Arizona State OSHA Plan suggest the state is either unable or unwilling to maintain its commitment to provide a program for worker safety and health protection as the OSH Act requires.
An example the department gave was that Arizona has failed to adopt adequate maximum penalty levels, occupational safety and health standards, National Emphasis Programs and – most recently – the COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard.
The Industrial Commission of Arizona, which oversees the state’s OSHA plan, responded with the following statement:
“The Industrial Commission of Arizona strongly disagrees with OSHA’s decision to reconsider approval of Arizona’s Final State Plan. Arizona has always, and will continue to, implement occupational safety and health standards in accordance with our mutually agreed upon State Plan and Arizona law. The reconsideration of Arizona’s State Plan status is a serious overreaction by OSHA.”
If OSHA determines that a state plan is failing to comply with its obligation to remain at least as effective as OSHA, the agency may initiate proceedings to revoke final approval, and reinstate federal concurrent authority over occupational safety and health issues covered by the state plan.
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