Workplace safety rules and regulations continue to evolve at the federal and state level, just as labor and employment laws and regulations have. As I have recently started revising a safety manual for a client, I now have a profound respect for workplace safety professionals. Because laws and regulations do vary at both the federal and state level, we as leaders need to be aware of changes in legislation, that can and will impact our organizations.
Below are 4 tips on complying with state and federal workplace safety standards:
- Federal OSH Act: Passed in 1970, “covers most private employers and their workers. However, OSHA allows states to develop their own workplace health and safety plans, as long as those plans are “at least as effective” as the federal program.”[i]
- Multi-State Employers: Currently, twenty-one states and Puerto Rico have OSHA-approved plans that cover government employees at the state and local level, as well as private employers. Five other states and the U.S. Virgin Islands currently have plans that cover only state and local government employers.
- State Laws: States can have laws more stringent than the federal requirements and/or standards that are not addressed by federal OSHA. This is comparable to HR laws and regulations; minimum wage, paid family leave, exempt/non-exempt status, background checks, etc. Review state and local requirements, as well as OSHA approved state plans.
- Compliance: Employers should review the federal requirements to ensure compliance and then review state compliance standards. “”Stay on top of the state plan regulations,” Martin said. “Assuming the state plan has the same regulations as federal OSHA may be a safe bet 80 percent of the time, but the differences can burn you.””[ii]
As we have seen under the current administration, laws and regulations continue to change. This will have an impact on OSHA standards at the federal level. Under the Obama administration, a law was passed that required certain employers to submit workplace injury and illness records through a portal on the OSHA website in July 2017. The Trump administration pushed compliance back to December 1, 2017, to evaluate the rule and requirements. Regardless, the electronic record keeping requirement can still be implemented at a state level, in certain states. Be aware of these changes and recognize the impact they can and will have on your organization. If you have questions, continue to seek guidance.