OSHA Stepping in to Bolster HIOSH
Hawaii administers an occupational safety and health state plan approved by federal OSHA. During the past three years, the state plan has faced significant budgetary constraints and staffing challenges, and has requested federal OSHA assistance to ensure that workers are afforded adequate worker protection during this period.
Recent OSHA monitoring reports identified “deficiencies” in the state enforcement efforts, the agency says. “As of March 1, 2012, the HIOSH program employed five safety inspectors and five health inspectors, which falls short of the required nine (9) safety inspectors and nine (9) health inspectors as determined by benchmarks established pursuant to a federal court order,” OSHA says. “This reduced staffing level has resulted in a significant decrease in enforcement activities. Added to the state's economic situation is the loss of institutional knowledge with the recent retirement of the program administrator. With the ongoing task of training a new program administrator, as well as hiring and training new enforcement and administrative staff, Hawaii has requested assistance from federal OSHA. Hawaii's proactive efforts demonstrate a commitment to ensuring that workers are afforded adequate protection during this period of program strengthening and improvement.”
Comments and requests for an informal hearing on the proceeding must be received by August 23, 2012.