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Workplace Safety and Health Program information

The program conducts inspections to promote effective health and safety management in the Commonwealth's public sector

WSHP mission, vision, and priorities

The mission of the Massachusetts Workplace Safety and Health Program (WSHP) is to prevent job-related injuries and illnesses among the Commonwealth's public sector workers and assist federal agencies in promoting health and safety in selected areas in the private sector.

Our vision is a Commonwealth where preventable workplace injuries and illnesses are eliminated. To accomplish this, we perform inspections to promote effective health and safety management in the Commonwealth's public sector. To bring long-term change to fruition, we educate and support workers, employers, advocates and decision-makers in health and safety standards which protect workers from preventable harm, and in the methods necessary to ensure that these standards are followed in the workplace.

Inspections are conducted based on the following (in order of priority):

  • Imminent danger conditions
  • Accident and fatality investigations
  • High-hazard activities as evidenced by worker's compensation rates
  • Complaints and referrals (may not result in site inspection)
  • Follow-up inspections
  • Random programmed inspections

What to expect during a safety and health inspection

  1. The DLS Inspector will conduct an opening conference to explain the purpose of the visit, and the scope of the inspection. Representatives of labor and management will be invited to participate in the opening conference. The DLS Inspector may request to review injury records and written programs. This review may occur before or after the site walkthrough.
  2. After the opening conference, the DLS representative will conduct a site walkthrough to evaluate tasks, equipment and conditions which could cause a work related injury or illness.
  3. Photographs, noise testing, or air testing may be conducted. The employer is welcome to take notes and obtain their own photographs or testing.
  4. At the conclusion of the inspection, the DLS representative will conduct a closing conference to discuss observations. The representative will also indicate conditions where corrective action may be required. The representative may also request documentation such as safety policies and training records. Due to the nature of work activities or equipment, additional research by DLS may be required before a report is provided.

Inspection report
A written report will be sent to the department management. If conditions were observed which could cause a work-related injury or illness, the report may take the following formats:

  • A Written Warning may be issued which contains an order to correct the condition by a correction due date.
  • A Civil Citation with Civil Penalty may be issued which contains an order to correct the condition by a correction due date. DLS may consider issuing a Civil Citation with Civil Penalty in circumstances when the employer repeatedly allowed an unsafe condition to occur, or if the condition has already caused a serious work-related injury, or if the employer has ignored a previous Written Warning.
  • A civil penalty, up to $1,000 for each violation, in accordance with M.G.L. c. 149 and regulations.

The written report will contain a corrective action due date. Extensions for the corrective action may be requested if the employer can show diligent progress toward correction.

List of services

Services provided free of charge to any public agency in Massachusetts

  • Accident investigation
  • High-hazard investigation
  • Complaint follow-up
  • Voluntary safety and health inspection (a free, no penalty consultation visit)
  • Ergonomics training and assessment
  • Bloodborne pathogen training and program assessment
  • Lead safety training
  • Lead contamination assessment (under certain circumstances)
  • Asbestos sample collection (under certain circumstances)
  • Workplace violence prevention program management review
  • Periodic training on various hazards (check the schedule for current offerings)

Warnings or penalties?

When a Written Warning is issued it will contain an order to correct the hazardous condition by a correction due date. Extensions may be granted if the employer can show diligent progress towards the correction and interim measures have been put in place to protect the employees. A Civil Penalty will only be assessed if the employer fails to meet the corrective due date, or extended due date if one has been granted.

DLS may issue a Civil Citation with Civil Penalty in circumstances when the employer repeatedly allowed an unsafe condition to occur, or if the condition has already caused a serious work-related injury, or if the employer has ignored a previous Written Warning. DLS may issue civil penalties of up to $1,000 for violation of each standard, in accordance with M.G.L. c. 149 and regulations.

 

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