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August 19, 2022
OSHA approves Massachusetts developmental plan

On August 18, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) approved Massachusetts’ developmental health and safety program (87 Federal Register (FR) 50766). OSHA has determined Massachusetts’ program will be at least as effective as the federal program in protecting the safety and health of state and local government workers.

The initial approval is based on a determination that the Massachusetts State Plan meets OSHA’s criteria for state programs or will meet the criteria within 3 years. The Massachusetts State Plan is eligible to receive funding from the Department of Labor’s fiscal year 2022 budget.

Since 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS), through its Workplace Safety and Health Program (WSHP), has performed inspections of state and local government workplaces to ensure compliance with safety and health requirements. The state submitted a draft plan to OSHA in December 2020, with final revisions to the plan in June 2022.

OSHA received seven comments in response to its June 30 proposal to approve the developmental program in Massachusetts. All seven comments strongly supported OSHA’s initial approval of the Massachusetts state program.

State statutes, regulations, and penalties must be at least as effective as federal OSHA standards to gain and maintain federal approval. Federal OSHA monitors state programs, issuing Federal Annual Monitoring Evaluation (FAME) reports. On April 21, OSHA proposed revoking its final approval of Arizona’s state workplace safety and health plan. On August 12, federal OSHA reopened the comment period on its proposal after receiving a response from the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) and its subagency, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH).

OSHA initiated revocation proceedings primarily because Arizona did not adopt federal OSHA’s June 21, 2021, COVID-19 healthcare emergency temporary standard (ETS). Massachusetts has provided assurances that the DLS will adopt federal ETSs and rely on OSHA’s findings of grave danger and reasonable necessity and that federal OSHA’s findings will be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the Massachusetts State Administrative Procedure Act.

OSHA extends comment period on lead proposal

On August 18, OSHA also extended the comment period on its June 28 advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on revisions to the agency’s construction and general industry lead standards (87 FR 50803). The ANPRM contained a series of 61 questions about blood level triggers for medical removal; medical surveillance; the permissible exposure limits (PELs); personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene, and training; safe harbor compliance protocols; environmental effects; duplicative, overlapping, or conflicting rules; and questions for employers about current practices.

Comments now are due October 28; the original deadline for comments was August 29.

The agency seeks input on reducing the current blood lead level (BLL) triggers in the medical surveillance and medical removal protection provisions of the general industry and construction standards. The agency also wants input on how current other provisions in the lead standards can be modified to reduce worker BLLs.

Commenters asked for more time to gather data and information and coordinate responses from organization members to develop a comprehensive response. They also pointed out the breadth and complexity of the technical issues involved in the ANPRM.

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