Public Interest Groups Release Database of State OSHA Laws

Public Citizen and the Public Health Law Research (PHLR) program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have released the first comprehensive database of all state occupational safety and health regulations and laws intended to protect workers from specific workplace hazards, in the 25 states with federally authorized enforcement agencies.

osha The database is designed for workers, unions, employers, occupational safety and health researchers and advocates, and state and federal regulatory officials, as a tool to compare and contrast regulations and laws across different states and with existing federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules.

The database reveals that most of the 25 states have amended or supplemented one or more federal regulations, and several states have issued regulations or laws protecting workers from hazards – such as heat stress, workplace violence, combustible dust and musculoskeletal injuries – that have not yet been addressed in a federal OSHA regulation.

Every year, millions of work-related injuries and illnesses are reported, thousands of workers are killed on the job and tens of thousands more die from occupational diseases.

Safety and health regulations and laws can prevent many of these deaths and injuries.

The 1970 federal Occupational Safety and Health Act established OSHA to protect workers from occupational safety and health hazards.

The act also permitted states to substitute their own rulemaking and enforcement agencies for federal OSHA, as long as the state programs, also known as state OSHA plans, are “at least as effective” as the federal agency.

This was intended as a way to allow states to address local needs and unique industries.

As of now, 25 states and two U.S. territories have federally approved state OSHA plans.

The database includes all state OSHA-enforced standards that have not been adopted identically from federal OSHA, and that protect workers from specific workplace safety and health hazards.

The database was made possible through a $50,000 grant from PHLR.

“This database shows that some state OSHA plans have been proactive and issued numerous regulations and laws that are a model for what is possible in other states and at federal OSHA,” said Dr. Sammy Almashat, researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.

“As the first publicly available clearinghouse for state occupational safety and health standards, we hope the database will be a useful resource for workers, employers, researchers and regulatory officials alike, allowing them to more easily identify states with certain standards and compare them with existing federal OSHA rules,” added Keith Wrightson, worker safety advocate with Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, who compiled the database with Almashat.


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