"Our goal is to identify problems in state-run programs before they result in serious injuries or fatalities," Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said.

OSHA Releases Reports on State Plans

Hawaii's deficiencies are more serious than other states' and could result in a federal takeover if not addressed satisfactorily, according to OSHA, which said it is working with Gov. Linda Lingle's office.

OSHA on Tuesday released the reports it has compiled on 27 states' and territories' state-run OSHA programs, indicating it has finished an analysis that began after OSHA issued its critical review of the Nevada program in October 2009. The EFAME (Enhanced Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation) reports provide details of the problems and cover fiscal year 2009. Most problems are minor instances where the states fail to keep records as they should or haven't updated their regulations in a timely way.

The report on Hawaii's state plan is longer and the problems more substantive, however. OSHA's release said the Hawaii review highlighted "significant performance problems resulting from staffing and funding cutbacks," adding, "OSHA is addressing these problems directly with the governor's office and has offered to provide supplemental federal enforcement assistance until the state can address its problems." For example, the report says HIOSH's staffing levels are below benchmarks, and it took 102 calendar days on average to issue citations in FY2009 -- more than twice as long as its FY2007 average and also about twice as long as federal OSHA. Public-sector inspections dropped from 86 in FY2007 to 30 in FY2008 to 22 in FY2009; the report says HIOSH must increase public-sector inspections and also must develop a tracking system to ensure federal standards are adopted within six months as required.

New Mexico's plan, on the other hand, is exceeding its goals and performing well, according to its EFAME report.

"Our goal is to identify problems in state-run programs before they result in serious injuries or fatalities," Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels said. "While we found many positives in the state programs, we also found deficiencies including concerns about identification of hazards, proper classification of violations, proposed penalty levels, and failure to follow up on violations to ensure that workplace safety and health problems are corrected. We recognize that some of the problems we identified could stem from significant budget constraints in many of the states and may also be the result of less intensive federal oversight in recent years. OSHA, through its regional offices, intends to provide assistance in the implementation of corrective actions and will work closely with state officials to review progress. We are confident that by working together to address identified problems, we can improve state operations and provide more consistent protection to all of America’s workers."

Each EFAME report, the state's comments, and its FY2009 self-evaluation report are available at http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/efame/index.html. OSHA said states will have 30 days to provide a formal response that will be posted online as soon as received. The response should include "a detailed corrective action plan for addressing findings and recommendations," according to OSHA.

OSHA said the review showed some states adopting standards and procedures exceeding its requirements, including injury and illness prevention programs in California, Washington, Oregon, and Minnesota; cranes and derricks rules prior to OSHA's rule in North Carolina, Washington, and Maryland; and Oregon's requirement that employers abate serious workplace violations during the contest period, "a legal tool under consideration in Congress but still lacking in federal OSHA."

No report was issued for Nevada because of the recent OSHA review or for Illinois' state plan because it was not approved until September 2009.

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