In a Move Supported by NAHB, OSHA Backs Off Arizona State Plan

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Contact: Brad Mannion
bmannion@nahb.org
(202) 266-8265

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OSHA announced yesterday that it will withdraw its proposal to reconsider and revoke final approval of Arizona's State Plan for occupational safety and health, leaving the state's plan in place.

State plans are OSHA-approved workplace safety and health programs operated by individual states. There are currently 22 state plans covering private and public sector workers. 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.

In April 2022, OSHA announced that it would seek to revoke the state plan of Arizona due to what it said was a "nearly decade-long pattern of failures to adopt adequate maximum penalty levels, occupational safety and health standards, National Emphasis Programs and the COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard."

During a public comment period on the revocation action, many organizations like NAHB urged OSHA to withdraw its proposed action.

NAHB noted in comments, "OSHA's actions frustrate Congress' intent by preventing states that are operating their own plans from developing state-specific workable solutions to preserve employee safety and health."

Many commenters' primary concern was OSHA's use of the "at least as effective as OSHA" standard in evaluating the effectiveness of state plans. NAHB said, "OSHA has still not met its congressional mandate to develop standards based on measurable outcomes, including identifying what the phrase 'at least as effective as' actually means."

In its announcement yesterday, OSHA noted that Arizona had completed "significant actions" to address its concerns.

NAHB appreciates that OSHA listened to stakeholders' concerns and chose to leave the Arizona State Plan in place. The OSH Act allows, and even encourages, states to develop and assume full responsibility for operating their own workplace safety and health plans. As a result, state plans can be more effective at protecting workers as they often account for local and regional environments in their enforcement mechanisms. Having safety standards set and enforced at the state level is the best way to keep more workers safe on job sites.

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