OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA Trade Release
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Contact: Bill Wright
Phone: (202) 693-1999
WASHINGTON -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Virgin Islands have agreed to convert the Territory's comprehensive state plan to a public employee only state plan. Federal OSHA assumed exclusive jurisdiction over private sector employers and workers in the Virgin Islands beginning July 1, 2003.
"This agreement will benefit the working men and women of the Virgin Islands," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "It allows OSHA to devote its resources to providing safety and health protection in private sector workplaces and enables the Virgin Islands to focus on enhancing protection for public sector employees and to increase safety and health assistance for small businesses."
Under the converted State plan, the Virgin Islands will continue its enforcement coverage of Territorial and local government employers and employees. The Territory has also agreed to enter into a new cooperative agreement with OSHA to provide on-site consultation services to the private sector. These program modifications are being made through mutual agreement with Governor Charles Turnbull and in recognition of unique circumstances affecting the Virgin Islands program.
The agreement imposes no new rights or obligations on employers and employees in the Virgin Islands. Private sector workplaces have been subject to Federal OSHA enforcement of safety standards since 1995 and subject to Federal OSHA health standards since the inception of the OSHA program. Public employees have been subject to enforcement under the Virgin Islands program since initial plan approval in 1973.
The Virgin Islands received initial approval for its comprehensive state plan in 1973 and final approval in 1984. The plan covered both occupational safety and health for public sector workplaces. However, the Territory did not exercise enforcement authority over occupational health issues in the private sector; enforcement of health standards and other health-related requirements were provided by Federal OSHA. OSHA assumed concurrent enforcement authority of safety standards in 1995.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 encourages states and territories to develop and operate their own job safety and health programs. States must set job safety and health standards that are "at least as effective as" comparable federal standards. OSHA approves and monitors State plans and provides up to 50 percent of an approved plan's operating costs.
OSHA is dedicated to assuring worker safety and health. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
The final rule formalizing this action will be published in the July 23, 2003, Federal Register.
U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this release will be made available in alternative format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202-693-7773 or TTY 202-693-7755.
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