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OSHA May Take Over AZ Workplace Safety

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered the state of Arizona to fix its state law to conform to OSHA construction safety standards. In a recent letter to the Industrial Commission of Arizona, OSHA said that the law that requires fall protection for workers facing falls of at least 15 feet is out of compliance with federal safety regulations.

OSHA requires employers to provide harnesses, nets or guardrails for workers who could fall six feet.

The letter also stated that OSHA would take over construction worker safety in the state. Currently, construction safety in Arizona is overseen by the Industrial Commission of Arizona and enforced by the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health. (ADOSH). OSHA provide the state agency with an annual grant for enforcement, training and outreach.

The state must respond to the OSHA letter by April 18.

The 2012 law was the result of legislative response to new OSHA standards that were viewed as too costly and no more effective than the Arizona standards. Although somewhat more stringent than the current state safety standards, it does not fully address OSHA's concerns about construction worker safety. OSHA noted that the legislation would not represent an improvement because workers could still face falls of 15 feet.

Something like this is less likely to happen in New York City or state, because OSHA oversees worker safety in all private sector jobs. The state has its own agency that protects public sector workers in local and state government. OSHA has seven offices in New York State, including one in Manhattan and one in Queens.

Source: Arizona Capital Times, "Feds to AZ: Construction worker safety measures insufficient," Mar. 21, 2014.

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