OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today announced it is reconsidering its final approval of the Virgin Islands state occupational safety and health program and therefore will reinstitute concurrent federal enforcement. The safety and health program is run by the Virgin Islands Department of Labor.
OSHA said that the Virgin Islands program is not working effectively in the most basic areas of safety and health protection.
Virgin Islands Commissioner of Labor Lisa Harris-Moorhead has agreed to voluntarily relinquish the state plan's final approval status, has requested the reassertion of concurrent federal enforcement jurisdiction, and has pledged to accomplish necessary corrective actions.
Assistant U.S. Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Joseph A. Dear said, "We are disappointed, but hope that by working together, the problems will be corrected and the Virgin Islands will be able to resume its independent enforcement status for occupational safety issues.
"Commissioner Harris-Moorhead has acted on behalf of the governor in committing the state to making Virgin Islands workplaces safe and healthful and to providing 'marked improvement' in the state's program by December," Dear said.
The Puerto Rico Department of Labor, which administers the neighboring approved state plan, has pledged assistance to the Virgin Islands. Labor Commissioner Harris-Moorhead expressed her appreciation for the help promised by both the OSHA area office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the Puerto Rico Department of Labor. "The idea of partnering will assure worker protection and provide the needed training for Virgin Islands' compliance and administrative personnel," she said.
Federal OSHA compliance officers will begin accompanying Virgin Island inspectors immediately, but no federal citations will be issued until a final decision is published.
OSHA is requesting written comments on its reconsideration of final approval for the Virgin Islands state plan. Comments and requests for an informal hearing must be received by Oct. 16, 1995 (35 days after publication in the Federal Register).
A decision revoking or suspending final approval for the plan would not rule out eventual federal approval of the plan and would not affect the legal authority of the Virgin Islands to carry on enforcement activities under the state plan.
Instead, revocation or suspension restores the state plan to "initial approval" status. It also permits resumption of concurrent federal enforcement including independent federal or joint state and federal inspections. Appropriate federal citations and penalties can be issued and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) can review contested cases.
Federal enforcement will reflect all new OSHA compliance initiatives that promote voluntary compliance through common sense regulation and reward employers who take steps to provide worker protection.
Written comments and requests for an informal hearing must be submitted in quadruplicate to Docket No. T-030, Docket Office, Room N-2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., telephone (202) 219-7894. Comments may be transmitted by facsimile to (202) 219-5046, provided the original and three copies are sent to the Docket Office. Comments and requests for an informal hearing will be available for public inspection and copying in the Docket Office between 8:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
A copy of the applicable evaluation reports, the state's letter and corrective action plan may be inspected and copied during normal business hours at the following locations: OSHA Technical Data Center (TDC), Room N-2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.; Office of the Regional Administrator, Occupational Safety and Health Administrator, 201 Varick St., Room 670, New York, N.Y. 10014; Puerto Rico Area Office, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Courthouse & FOB, Carlos Chardon Ave., Room 555, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico 00918; and Virgin Islands Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Division, 3012 Golden Rock, Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands 00820.
Notice of the action is published in the Sept. 11, 1995 Federal Register.
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