<< Back to State Occupational Safety and Health Plans

What is a State OSHA Program?

Section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act) encourages States to develop and operate their own job safety and health programs. OSHA approves and monitors State plans and provides up to 50 percent of an approved plan's operating costs.

There are currently 22 States and jurisdictions operating complete State plans (covering both the private sector and State and local government employees) and 5 - Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and the Virgin Islands - which cover public employees only. (Eight other States were approved at one time but subsequently withdrew their programs).

New Mexico
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
Puerto Rico
South Carolina
Virgin Islands

(Please note that the Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Virgin Islands plans cover public sector employment only)

States must set job safety and health standards that are "at least as effective as" comparable federal standards. (Most States adopt standards identical to federal ones.) States have the option to promulgate standards covering hazards not addressed by federal standards.

A State must conduct inspections to enforce its standards, cover public (State and local government) employees, and operate occupational safety and health training and education programs. In addition, most States provide free on-site consultation to help employers identify and correct workplace hazards. Such consultation may be provided either under the plan or through a special agreement under section 21(d) of the Act.

How does a State establish its own program?

To gain OSHA approval for a developmental plan - the first step in the State plan process - a State must assure OSHA that within three years it will have in place all the structural elements necessary for an effective occupational safety and health program. These elements include: appropriate legislation; regulations and procedures for standards setting, enforcement, appeal of citations and penalties; a sufficient number of qualified enforcement personnel.

Once a State has completed and documented all its developmental steps, it is eligible for certification. Certification renders no judgment as to actual State performance, but merely attests to the structural completeness of the plan.

At any time after initial plan approval, when it appears that the State is capable of independently enforcing standards, OSHA may enter into an "operational status agreement" with the State. This commits OSHA to suspend the exercise of discretionary federal enforcement in all or certain activities covered by the State plan.

The ultimate accreditation of a State's plan is called final approval. When OSHA grants final approval to a State under section 18 (e) of the Act, it relinquishes its authority to cover occupational safety and health matters covered by the State. After at least one year following certification, the State becomes eligible for final approval if OSHA determines that it is providing, in actual operation, worker protection "at least as effective" as the protection provided by the federal program. The State also must meet 100 percent of the established compliance staffing levels (benchmarks) and participate in OSHA's computerized inspection data system before OSHA can grant final approval.

Employees finding workplace safety and health hazards may file a formal complaint with the appropriate plan State or with the appropriate OSHA regional administrator. Complaints will be investigated and should include the name of the workplace, type(s) of hazard(s) observed and any other pertinent information.

Anyone finding inadequacies or other problems in the administration of a State's program, may file a Complaint About State Program Administration (CASPA) with the appropriate OSHA regional administrator as well. The complainant's name is kept confidential. OSHA investigates all such complaints, and where complaints are found to be valid, requires appropriate corrective action on the part of the State.

States with Approved Safety and Health Plans

Alaska     X   07/31/73 08/29/77 09/28/84
Arizona     X   10/29/74 09/14/81 06/20/85
California X X X X 04/24/73 08/12/77  
Connecticut (6)     X   10/02/73 08/19/86  
Hawaii X   X   12/28/73 04/26/78  
Illinois (6)     X   09/01/09    
Indiana     X   02/25/74 09/24/81 09/26/86
Iowa     X   07/20/73 09/14/76 07/02/85
Kentucky         07/23/73 02/08/80 06/13/85
Maryland     X   06/28/73 02/06/80 07/18/85
Michigan X X X   09/24/73 01/16/81  
Minnesota     X X 05/29/73 09/23/76 07/30/85
Nevada     X   12/04/73 08/13/81 04/18/00
New Jersey (6)     X   01/11/01    
New Mexico X   X   12/04/75 12/04/84  
New York (6)     X   06/01/84 8/16/06  
North Carolina     X   01/26/73 09/29/76 12/10/96
Oregon X X X   12/22/72 09/15/82 05/12/05(8)
Puerto Rico X       08/15/77 08/05/82  
South Carolina     X   11/30/72 07/28/76 12/15/87
Tennessee     X   06/28/73 05/03/78 07/22/85
Utah     X   01/04/73 11/11/76 07/16/85
Vermont X   X X 10/01/73 02/24/77  
Virgin Islands (6)     X   08/31/73
09/14/81 (04/17/84) (7)
Virginia     X   09/23/76 08/15/84 11/30/88
Washington X X   X 01/19/73 01/26/82  
Wyoming     X   04/25/74 12/18/80 06/27/85
Total:  27 8 4 24 4 27 25 16

1 -- Concurrent Federal OSHA jurisdiction suspended
2 -- Standards frequently not identical to the Federal
3 -- On-site consultation is available in all States either through 21(d) Agreement or under a State Plan
4 -- Developmental steps satisfactorily completed
5 -- Concurrent Federal jurisdiction relinquished (supersedes Operational Status Agreement)
6 -- Plan covers State and local government employees only
7 -- Voluntary withdrawal of private sector jurisdiction and reversion to Public Employee Only program July 1, 2003 (68 FR 43457, 07/23/03)
8 -- Final approval excludes temporary labor camps in agriculture, general industry, construction and logging.