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OSHA Streamlines Process to Change State Plans

In an attempt to streamline the review process and reduce paperwork, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a revised rule in today

The revised regulation was developed through a joint federal/state plan process, which included discussions at meetings of the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association. OSHA published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Nov. 6, 2001.

OSHA would require states to submit written supplements only when the state change is different from the federal program, which will reduce paperwork. Other procedural changes include streamlining the federal review and approval of plan supplements and seeking public comment if a state-plan change differs significantly from the comparable federal program component. Federal Register approval notices will be published only for different plan changes. The final rule revises 29 CFR Part 1953 by reorganizing the regulation to eliminate repetitive language as well as streamlining the process for changes

The regulatory change also includes an explicit statement of OSHA's longstanding statutory interpretation that states may modify their state plans by adopting and implementing new legislation, regulations, standards policies or procedures, under state law, prior to federal review and approval.

The regulation will not affect federal OSHA standards, but will impact internal OSHA operations and those of states with OSHA-approved plans. There are 26 approved state plans, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming, which have plans covering private- and public-sector employment. Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have state plans covering only the public sector.

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