What health and safety laws, regulations and protections are available to municipal and county employees in Massachusetts?Municipal and county employees in Massachusetts are not covered by the Federal Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) Standards that cover all private sector employees.
Municipal and county employee health and safety is covered in a general manner under Chapter 149 section 6 of the Massachusetts General Laws. In addition, all public employees in Mass are covered by the Massachusetts Right to Know Law.
Are there specific standards or requirements for municipal employees?In most cases, with the exception of Right to Know, there are no specific safety and health standards for public sector workers. Chapter 149 section 6 states that our Division shall investigate places of employment and determine what suitable devices or other reasonable means or requirements are necessary for the prevention of industrial or occupational diseases.
In the absence of specific standards, it is the policy of our office that public sector employees follow the OSHA Standards as a minimum. Compliance with the OSHA Standards will in most cases ensure compliance with the intent of Chapter 149 section 6.
What kind of services are available to public sector workplaces?Both employees and employers in public workplaces can request our services. Our office can provide services ranging from technical assistance with a health or safety issue, to air monitoring to determine chemical exposures, the evaluation of a ventilation system, and a walkthrough inspection to review hazards and controls. In addition, our office can provide training on a variety of subjects including bloodborne pathogens and tuberculosis hazards and controls, respiratory protection as well as others. All testing, training and consultations are done free of charge. Typical services provided to public schools have included:
- Evaluation of indoor air quality
- Evaluation of science lab health and safety
- Evaluation of Right to Know compliance
- Assistance in complying with bloodborne pathogens requirements
- Assistance in use of respiratory protection
- Evaluation of health and safety issues in vocational school shops
- Assistance with lead and asbestos issues
Are there fees for services or fines and penalties associated with the inspections?Usually there are no fines or penalties associated with the inspections as long as the most serious hazards are corrected in a reasonable period of time. Our office will work with the municipality or county to address the correction of such hazards. There is a provision in the law for issuing orders that could lead to fines should a municipality fail to correct a serious health hazard.
DOS provides training on occupational health hazards and indoor air quality problems to public and private employers, groups and organizations. Private sector employers should contact the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program. Public sector employers should contact the OH/IAQ Program for assistance with preventing exposures to bloodborne pathogens , tuberculosis and other occupational health hazards.Training is offered in many areas, including Right to Know, chemical storage hazards in schools, indoor air quality, respiratory protection , the hazards associated with diesel fumes and others. We are also willing to tailor training sessions to meet the specific needs of a work place.
There is no charge for any of these services. For further information contact the OH/IAQ Program at 617-969-7177
Related Link: www.epa.gov/iaq/