April 21, 2022

OSHA Begins Process to Revoke Approval of Arizona's State Plan

OSHA has announced a proposal to reconsider and revoke its final approval of Arizona’s state occupational safety and health plan. The agency describes its decision as a response to “nearly a decade-long pattern of failures to adopt and enforce standards and enforcement policies at least as effective as those used by [federal OSHA].” The publication of OSHA’s proposal in the Federal Register today marks the beginning of the revocation process. If OSHA finds that the state plan is failing to comply with its obligations, it may reinstate federal concurrent authority over occupational safety and health issues covered by the Arizona state plan. OSHA contends that this action would allow the agency to ensure that private sector employees in the state have the same protections as workers covered by federal OSHA.

If OSHA revokes its approval, Arizona would become the first state to involuntarily lose federal approval of its state plan, according to a news article published by Bloomberg Law. State plans are OSHA-approved workplace safety and health programs operated by individual states or U.S. territories. They are monitored by federal OSHA, which provides up to 50 percent of each program’s funding.

“OSHA has grown increasingly concerned that actions by the Arizona State OSHA Plan suggest the state is either unable or unwilling to maintain its commitment to provide a program for worker safety and health protection as the OSH Act requires,” OSHA’s press release explains. “Arizona has, for example, failed to adopt adequate maximum penalty levels, occupational safety and health standards, National Emphasis Programs and—most recently—the COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard.”

Individuals who are interested in submitting feedback for OSHA to consider in its decision must submit comments by May 26. If “substantial objections” to the proposed revocation are filed, OSHA will hold an informal public hearing online beginning on Aug. 16. Further details about OSHA’s proposal, the comment period, and the public hearing can be found in the Federal Register.