Establishing the Massachusetts Employee Safety and Health Advisory Committee    

On April 27, 2009, Executive Order #511 was signed, “Establishing the Massachusetts Employee Safety and Health Advisory Committee."  EO 511 calls for the creation of an infrastructure that will allow for on-going assessment and improvement of health and safety conditions for Commonwealth employees on the job.  The cornerstone of this health and safety infrastructure is the creation of joint labor management health and safety committees to cover all employees in agencies of the Commonwealth's executive branch.  These committees will conduct an assessment of health and safety systems in place for certain serious worker health and safety hazards.  This will generate a big picture understanding of where we currently stand with worker safety and health across the executive branch, and will serve to inform the efforts of the Governor's Advisory Committee in identifying effective and practical strategies and initiatives to improve the safety and health of our Commonwealth's employees.

The work of Executive Order 511 was designed to help agencies build the capacity to implement and maintain the health and safety program structure necessary to achieve compliance with OSHA level protections, as a means to reduce injuries and illnesses.  Now that compliance with OSHA standards for executive branch agencies has been passed into law, and the new state plan around this law is being implemented, it is recommended that you continue to use the work of EO 511 as a foundational element in your health and safety program.  This includes the infrastructure created by EO 511, consisting of the health and safety committees, secretariat and agency senior management health and safety “administrators”, and the secretariat health and safety coordinator to manage your compliance efforts.  It is also recommended that you continue to use the methods and information developed for EO 511, such as the gap analysis results, and the systems-based assessment of hazards (looking at upper management support and policy, technical standard, accountability, training, and controls for each hazard).  For details on the EO 511 infrastructure and methods described, go to

EO 511 Fact Sheet  pdf format of EO 511 Fact Sheet 
Phase 1
EO 511 Fact Sheet pdf format of EO 511 Fact Sheet Phase 2
EO 511 Key Initiatives
Secretariat Health and Safety Management Plan Overview  pdf format of Secretariat Health and Safety Management Plan Overview
Frequently Asked Questions about EO 511
Mass Employee Safety and Health Advisory Committee
EO 511 Report

Approach to Executive Order 511 Implementation:

For worker health and safety protections to become part of the daily routine, a variety of factors must all be in place together, and this creates a comprehensive worker health and safety system. These factors include:

  • Upper management support / worker health and safety policy
  • Accountability at all levels for use of health and safety equipment and procedures
  • Use of the correct technical worker protection standard or guideline to identify what employee protections are needed
  • Training of employees in health and safety hazards and needed protections
  • Use of the protective "controls" outlined in the technical standards, such as special equipment or procedures.

For Executive Order #511, a method was developed for health and safety committees to evaluate their organization's health and safety systems for some of the most serious hazards workers face on the job. The first step is for the committee to complete the questionnaires for all relevant hazards, which consist of open-ended questions about what you currently have in place relative to specific worker hazards. The second step is to compare what you currently have in place against what is required by the technical standard as well as effective health and safety system program elements. Once these "gaps" are identified, the committee can further evaluate this information to identify the core reasons for what is missing in their health and safety system. Going through this process will help you identify effective measures and strategies for improving worker health and safety for your organization.

The gap analysis process is designed to work hand in hand with the new senior management framework of health and safety administrators created as part of the secretariat health and safety management planning process conducted in phase two. These health and safety administrators will coordinate with the committees to prioritize and implement the key health and safety gaps identified by the committees. The EO 511 activities have challenged the notion that job-related injuries/illnesses and associated costs are expected and acceptable due to the hazardous nature of much of the work conducted by the Commonwealth’s workforce. A focused effort to enhance a health and safety culture through the framework of systems-based health and safety management should bring reductions in injuries and their associated costs.

If you would like to use this method and would like to receive training and assistance, please contact Michael Flanagan at the Mass Department of Labor Standards at 617-626-6958 or

Effects of Workplace Safety and Health Initiatives on Workers’ Compensation Claims in Massachusetts State Government

In 2009, Massachusetts enacted Executive Order 511, directing implementation of a workplace safety and health management system for state workplaces. Data from 2005-2014 shows a 12.2% decrease in workers’ compensation claims after this initiative, a 27% greater decrease than that of state higher educational institutions for which the Executive Order did not apply. Alternative reasons for the changes are reviewed and ruled out. This strongly suggests that public as well as private employers should consider implementation of a workplace safety and health management system.