August 11, 2022

Arizona's Response Prompts OSHA to Reopen Comment Period on Revoking State Plan

A prepublication version (PDF) of an upcoming Federal Register notice indicates that OSHA intends to reopen the comment period for its proposed revocation of the Arizona state plan for occupational safety and health.

In April, OSHA announced that it had begun the process of revoking Arizona’s state plan due to “nearly a decade-long pattern of failures to adopt and enforce standards and enforcement policies at least as effective as” those of federal OSHA. According to OSHA, the state had failed to adopt federal OSHA’s maximum penalties, OHS standards, National Emphasis Programs (NEPs), and the agency’s COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard. The agency invited public comments on the proposal, which were originally due May 26. OSHA then extended the deadline to July 5.

On that day, the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) and the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) submitted a comment indicating that Arizona had in fact adopted OSHA’s NEPs and increases in penalties, and was poised to adopt final rules related to beryllium, cranes and derricks in construction, COVID-19 recordkeeping, and other standards. The state agencies conceded that they had not informed OSHA in a timely manner that Arizona had adopted OSHA’s NEP on trenching and excavation, which went into effect on Oct. 1, 2018. But ICA and ADOSH showed that the state had begun inspections as described under the NEP as early as May 2019.

The new Federal Register notice, which is scheduled to publish on Aug. 15, states that “OSHA has reviewed its records alongside ICA and ADOSH’s comment and finds that (with one minor exception) all of the ICA and ADOSH assertions described in this notice are accurate.” The agency is now inviting comments on how the state agencies’ comment should affect OSHA’s proposed revocation of the state plan. OSHA has also postponed a planned public hearing on the proposal.

In comments (PDF) submitted in response to OSHA’s original Federal Register notice, AIHA recommended that the Arizona state plan remain in place, citing ADOSH’s outreach programs, particularly regarding heat stress.