A bill that would apply federal workplace safety standards to all public sector workers in Massachusetts is expected to arrive on the governor’s desk in the coming weeks.
The House and Senate have reconciled differences between their two versions of the bill, which would apply the standards set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Act to all state and local government workers. The law would extend the OSHA standards to municipal workers under a 2014 state law that applied those protections to certain state employees.
While the expectation of the Department of Labor Standards has been for public agencies to comply with OSHA regulations, this bill would codify the federal standards as applicable to all state and municipal employees, and the DLS would enforce the law, not OSHA.
The new law would require the governor to appoint representatives from local governments and groups, including a representative from the MMA, to a 21-member occupational health and safety advisory board that would consult with the DLS to amend current regulations in order to include municipal employees. The MMA worked with legislators to ensure that municipal management would be included on the board.
The advisory board would also evaluate data on injury and illness, recommend training and implementation of safety and health measures, monitor the effectiveness of safety and health programs, and determine where additional resources are needed.
The OSHA law, passed by Congress in 1970, created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and established standards to ensure safe and healthful working conditions by providing enforcement, outreach, training and compliance assistance.
With this new law, Massachusetts would join 26 states that have extended OSHA protections to public employees. The governor is expected to sign the bill, which would take effect on Sept. 1.

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