State Plans are OSHA-approved workplace safety and health programs operated by individual states or U.S. territories. There are currently 22 State Plans covering both private sector and state and local government workers, and there are seven State Plans covering only state and local governments. State Plans are monitored by OSHA and must be at least as effective as OSHA in protecting workers and in preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Information about State Plans in general can be found at https://www.osha.gov/stateplans/ (external OSHA website).
The Massachusetts Workplace Safety and Health Program (WSHP) enforces occupational safety and health regulations in public sector workplaces, including: state, county, and municipal workplaces; public schools, colleges, universities; and quasi-government agencies, such as water districts and transportation. Federal OSHA continues to have jurisdiction over private sector.
Our vision is a Commonwealth where preventable workplace injuries and illnesses are eliminated. To accomplish this, we perform inspections and outreach to promote effective health and safety in the Commonwealth’s public sector.
State Plan Safety and Health Inspections
WSHP adopts and enforces standards that are at least as effective as federal OSHA requirements. 454 CMR 25.00 requires public sector employers to comply with OSHA standards. Inspections are conducted based on the following, in order of priority: imminent danger conditions; injury and fatality investigations; complaints and referrals (may not result in a site inspection); follow-up inspections; and planned programmed inspections at high hazard activities.
Fines and Penalties
The Massachusetts State Plan uses a different penalty structure than federal OSHA. Over the past ten years, WSHP issued a Written Warning and Order to Correct before issuing a fine. WSHP expects to continue this practice so that funds can be used towards equipment maintenance and training instead of fines. Employers are required to provide documentation that violations have been corrected.
Circumstances in which a penalty would be issued include: an employer willfully required employees to work in an unsafe condition; the employer repeatedly allowed an unsafe condition to occur; the condition already caused a serious work-related injury; or the employer has ignored a previous Written Warning. WSHP may issue a Civil Citation and Civil Penalty without a prior Written Warning. Fine structure of up to $1,000 per violation, is provided in M.G.L. c.149. The process for Written Warnings and Civil Citations is provided in 454 CMR 25.00 and 454 CMR 29.00. Penalty amounts are intended to be a deterrent and are not intended to place a value on an employee injury or life.
Contesting a Citation
WSHP follows 454 CMR 29.00 “Civil Administrative Penalties” when issuing Written Warnings and Civil Citations with Civil Penalty. The State Plan procedures are similar to OSHA but follow Massachusetts regulatory procedures and are handled by the Department of Labor Standards.
Injury and Illness Reporting
Public sector employers are required to maintain injury and illness records in accordance with 29 CFR 1904.
Workers Compensation: Continue to file Form 101 – Employer’s First Report of Injury to the Division of Industrial Accidents. The State Plan announcement does not change DIA requirements.
Notice of Fatality, Amputation, Loss of Eye or Inpatient Hospitalization. Public sector employers are required to notify the Workplace Safety and Health Program (WSHP) of these serious injuries. Private sector employers are required to notify OSHA.
OSHA 300 Logs: Public sector employers are required to maintain OSHA 300 Logs in accordance with OSHA’s recordkeeping standard 29 CFR 1904. Some employers, such as K-12 schools, are exempt. Electronic recordkeeping is allowed. See WSHP bulletin OSHA 300 Employer Guide for Municipalities 2021 for details. Note that public sector employers are not required to upload their OSHA 300 data to the OSHA website.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey: Each year approximately 275 public sector employers are selected to participate in the Bureau of Labor Standards Annual Survey of Occupational Illnesses and Injuries. Public sector employers are required to respond to the survey. Assistance is available through the WSHP Consultation Program.
Employees or employee representatives have the right to report unsafe and unhealthful working conditions to WSHP. In addition, an employee-authorized representative shall be given an opportunity to accompany WSHP during the physical inspection of any workplace. WSHP encourages employers to involve employees in the development and implementation of safety programs. The external OSHA website has material for employers: https://www.osha.gov/safety-management/worker-participation
Massachusetts employment posters are free – employers may download and print on their own. Purchasing posters from a third party publisher is not required. Both private and public sector employers may download and print posters without a fee.
Clarifications and Interpretations
Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards
Phone: (508) 616-0461 x1
Fax: (508) 822-2033