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Establishing Indicators to Determine Whether State Plan Operations are At Least as Effective as Federal OSHA

June 25, 2012
10 am 1 pm est

Francis Perkins Building
U.S. Department of Labor
Room N3437
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210

News Release | Federal Register Notice | Extension of Comment Period FRN

Meeting PowerPoint [7 KB PPT*, 12 Slides] | Meeting Agenda | Draft Measures | Stakeholder Meeting Transcript [189 KB DOC *] [244 KB PDF *]

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) invites interested parties to participate in an informal stakeholder meeting on defining and measuring the effectiveness of the OSHA-approved State Plans as compared to Federal OSHA. The purpose of this meeting is to provide a forum to gather information and ideas on key outcome and activity-based indicators and how OSHA can use such indicators to assess the effectiveness of State Plans. Extension of Comment Period FRN: The comment period has been extended to Friday, July 6, 2012. Detailed procedures on how to submit comments may be found in the Extension of Comment Period FRN.

Registration Information

Those interested in attending may register with Angela DeCanio by phone at: (202) 693-2239, or by fax at: (202) 693-1671. Registrants should label their requests as: "Stakeholder Meeting: Monitoring of OSHA-Approved State Plans." When registering please indicate the following: 1) Name, address, phone, fax, and e-mail address; 2) Organization for which you work; and, 3) Organization you will represent (if different).

To participate in the June 25, 2012 stakeholder meeting or be a nonparticipating observer,
you must register by close of business on June 11, 2012.

Registration Information

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 ("the Act") encourages states to develop and operate their own workplace safety and health plans. Once OSHA approves a State Plan under Section 18(b) of the Act, OSHA may fund up to 50 percent of the state program's operating costs. Absent an approved State Plan, states are preempted from enforcing occupational safety and health standards. As a condition of OSHA approval, State Plans must provide standards and enforcement programs that are "at least as effective as" the federal OSHA program, in addition to voluntary compliance activities, and cover public sector employees. OSHA is responsible for the approval and monitoring of State Plans. Section 18(f) of the Act requires the Secretary of Labor to make a continuing evaluation of each State Plan to ensure that it meets federal standards. Regulations regarding federal OSHA's evaluative responsibilities are codified at 29 CFR 1954.

Under the current monitoring system, State Plans set their own strategic and annual performance goals. State Plans are not required to mirror OSHA's Plans but must include the goal of reducing workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. State Plan performance is primarily assessed by examining a State's progress in achieving its goals with review of performance data on certain mandated activities. State Plans are required to meet all mandated requirements of the Act and 29 CFR Parts 1902, 1952, 1953, and 1956 (for public employee only plans). State Plans certify that they will meet all mandated requirements in their grant applications each year. In addition, State Plan performance on mandated activities is measured by the quarterly State Activity Mandated Measures (SAMM) Report, which compares State performance to a fixed negotiated standard for each State or the national trend (3 year national average). The Regions are responsible for monitoring and evaluating the State Plans through regular evaluation reports, Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation (FAME) report, and quarterly meetings. State Plans and Regions meet quarterly to share information and track State progress on performance goals and adherence to mandated requirements. The State Plans also prepare an annual self-evaluation that is an important component of the FAME reports, the State OSH Annual Report (SOAR).


The current system replaced a model of comparing State performance on various statistical indicators to Federal performance in order to determine if a State Plan is "at least as effective as" federal OSHA. However, following congressional hearings over the past several years concerning state plan effectiveness, and an audit by the Department of Labor's Office of the Inspector General in March 2011, OSHA increased the level of onsite monitoring of state plans and committed to further strengthening communication between federal OSHA and the State Plans. On October 29, 2009, Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab testified before the House Committee on Education and Labor about the Special Study that OSHA conducted of the Nevada State Plan and OSHA's plans for increasing oversight and conducting a baseline special evaluation in all other State Plans.

In FY 2009 the FAME reports were enhanced to include baseline special evaluations for each State Plan. The Enhanced FAME reports assessed the State Plans' progress toward achieving the performance goals established by their FY 2009 Annual Performance Plans and reviewed the effectiveness of programmatic areas related to enforcement activities through onsite audits and case file reviews. Each State Plan formally responded to the Enhanced FAME report and, as appropriate, developed a Corrective Action Plan that was approved by OSHA. The 2009 interim monitoring guidance focused on enforcement activities and the Corrective Action Plans in addition to performance goals. It was revised for the FY 2010 and FY 2011 evaluations in response to concerns and issues raised both within OSHA and from State Plans. In response to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report entitled "OSHA Has Not Determined If State OSH Programs Are At Least As Effective in Improving Workplace Safety and Health as Federal OSHA's Programs," OSHA is working with OSHSPA to examine the monitoring system and address the OIG's recommendation to OSHA "to define effectiveness, design measures to quantify impact, establish a baseline for State Plan evaluations, and revise monitoring to include an assessment of effectiveness." The goal of the stakeholder meeting announced in this notice is to solicit ideas about how to define and measure effectiveness and to develop a revised monitoring system (in place of the interim guidance) to ensure consistency and effectiveness across the State Plans.

The Process

Representatives from the State Plans and OSHA have been working to develop a number of draft measures. The workgroup has met several times over the past year and has identified fifteen proposed measures. Most of these measures address performance areas that are mandated by the OSH Act, such as the ability to gain entry into establishments to conduct inspections and to respond to complaints. Some additional measures, such as enforcement presence, were added by the work group to give a more comprehensive picture of effectiveness. The proposed measures are meant to provide background and a starting point for those individuals participating in or observing the stakeholder meeting. Interested parties may also submit comments on the draft measures and the questions below at http://www.regulations.gov/#!home (Docket No. OSHA-2012-0021).

The stakeholder meeting encourages participants to express individual views about how to determine whether OSHA-approved State Plans are as effective as the Federal OSHA program. The specific issues to be discussed will include feedback on the draft measures and thoughts on the following issues:

OSHA's mission is "to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance." State Plans, as a condition of OSHA approval, must provide standards and enforcement programs that are "at least as effective as'' the federal OSHA program, in addition to voluntary compliance activities, and cover public sector employees.

Note: The questions listed in the Federal Register Notice published May 29, 2012 have been slightly reformatted below for clarity and to facilitate better discussion during the meeting.

1. How would you define or describe the components that constitute an OSHA-approved State Plan that was "effective" in achieving this mission (e.g., funding, staffing, standards setting, strong enforcement program, strong consultation program, frequency of inspection, strong training and outreach programs, level of penalties etc.)?

2. What indicators would you use to determine and monitor whether OSHA-approved State Plans are "at least as effective" as federal OSHA as outlined in Section 18(b) of the Act?

  • Outcome based measures: e.g., reductions in injury and illness rates, reductions in fatality rates, etc.

  • Activity based measures: e.g., number of inspections conducted, number of violations issued, etc.

3. If OSHA and the state plans develop a core set of effectiveness measures that both OSHA and State Plan programs must meet

  • How should OSHA determine the range that state plans must meet for individual measures?

  • How should OSHA work with the states to address measures that fall outside of these ranges?

4. What activity and outcome based measures would you use to assess effectiveness as it relates to

  • the reduction of health hazards?

  • the effectiveness of the whistleblower program under Section 11(c) of the Act?

Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs at 202-693-2200 for assistance accessing DOC, PDF and PPT materials.

*These files are provided for downloading.