The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for ensuring that private industry employers keep their workers safe, but Massachusetts State Senator Marc Pacheco is seeking to extend those same protections to state workers.
Sen. Pacheco introduced Senate Bill 877, “An Act extending safety protections to employees of the executive branch of the Commonwealth,” which currently is sitting in the state senate’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.
Bill 877 would amend chapter 149 of the general laws by adding: “With respect to employees of the Commonwealth and its departments, authorities, boards and commissions, such regulations shall provide at least the level of protection to employees as are provided under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. In the absence of a state regulation, the department shall apply the applicable provisions of said Act and such provisions shall be enforceable in the district court in the jurisdiction in which the violation occurs.”
The bill also would require the governor to appoint a 13-member occupational health and safety hazard advisory board to evaluate injury and illness data, 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 board would have responsibility for creating rules and regulations recommended to establish standards in instances where the board has found that “no federal standard exists for the particular condition being addressed and that such a standard is necessary for the protection of the public employees at risk, or … a federal standard exists, but conditions in public workplaces in this state require a different standard, and such state standard will be at least as effective in providing safe and healthful places of employment as the federal standard.”