Federal OSHA: 3 State Plans Failing to Address COVID

Federal OSHA may step in to take over workplace safety regulations from three states: Arizona, South Carolina, and Utah for failing to address job-related COVID-19 exposure properly. The three states failed to adopt rules at least as effective as federal OSHA’s requiring employers to adopt certain COVID-related safety measures.

Failure to Maintain Approved Plans

OSHA-approved plans are in place in 28 states and U.S. territories, and where no plan was approved, federal OSHA retains authority. States with their versions of OSHA “can assume responsibility for occupational safety if the government approves their plan for doing so and if the plan remains at least as effective as federal enforcement,” according to The New York Times.

However, if a state fails to maintain an effective plan, its authority to regulate workplace safety could be revoked entirely or, in part – as in coverage of specific industries could be revoked.

Jim Frederick, acting director of OSHA, told The New York Times in a conference call that the three states’ “continued refusal (to come into compliance) is a failure to maintain their state plan commitment to thousands of workers in their state.”

Representatives from the three states said they feel their OSHA programs had at least proven as effective as the federal agency’s and didn’t want to implement COVID-19 measures that would place an undue burden on employers.