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OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
March 10, 1994
Mr. Donald L. Hohman
RD-1, Box 169
Proctor, West Virginia 26055-9735
Dear Mr. Hohman:
This is in response to your letter of February 22, expressing your dissatisfaction with our response sent to you on October 12, 1993, from Mr. Roger A. Clark, former Director of Compliance Programs. Your letter alleges that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is violating an order from President Clinton to protect you and other volunteer firefighters.
As we stated in our previous letter to you, Section 3(5) of the OSH Act specifically excludes a State or any political subdivision of a State from the definition of an "employer". Thus, by law, OSHA cannot directly protect employees of State and local governments. We consider volunteer firefighters to be employees for this purpose. You stated in your letter of May 15, 1993 that the fire department is funded by the State of West Virginia, therefore, OSHA does not have jurisdiction over the State or its employees, including volunteer firefighters.
We did, however, refer your letter to the West Virginia Division of Labor. We included the name of the contact person and the telephone number so that you could contact them directly. If you have not heard from them, you may wish to contact them to ascertain the status of your letter.
You may be interested to know that proposed revisions to the OSH Act are being considered by Congress. If passed, they could expand OSHA's coverage to include public employees. You may wish to make your senators and representatives aware of your views on this matter.
We regret that we could not be of greater assistance in this matter and we hope that we can be of service to you in the future.
H. Berrien Zettler, Deputy Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs