February 16, 2023

Federal OSHA to Leave Arizona State Plan in Place

Federal OSHA has withdrawn its proposal to reconsider and revoke its final approval of Arizona’s state occupational safety and health plan, effective Feb. 15, according to a notice published yesterday in the Federal Register. This action means that the Arizona state plan will remain in place. 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.

In April 2022, 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. The agency’s proposal cited concerns that the state plan had failed to adopt national emphasis programs, the COVID-19 healthcare emergency temporary standard, and adequate maximum penalty levels.

OSHA accepted public comments regarding its revocation proposal until July 5, 2022. In comments (PDF) submitted in May 2022 in response to OSHA’s original Federal Register notice, AIHA recommended that the Arizona state plan remain in place, citing the outreach programs of the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, particularly regarding heat stress. On the final day of the comment period, Arizona submitted a comment indicating that the state plan had “completed significant actions” to address the concerns of federal OSHA. For example, the Arizona state plan adopted outstanding federal standards and directives, enacted state laws intended to ensure that Arizona’s future maximum and minimum penalty levels track with those of federal OSHA, and authorized the adoption of emergency temporary standards when either OSHA or the Industrial Commission of Arizona, which administers and enforces Arizona state laws related to occupational safety and health, determines that “grave danger” criteria are met. In response to Arizona’s efforts, federal OSHA reopened the comment period until Oct. 14, 2022, so that stakeholders had another opportunity to provide feedback on this matter.

OSHA’s announcement this week follows “recent public reports of a downward trend in inspections in the [Arizona state] plan's enforcement program,” as described in OSHA’s Feb. 14 press release.

“OSHA takes these reports seriously, and the agency is actively working with the Arizona State Plan to address these issues,” the press release states.

To learn more about recent developments regarding Arizona’s state plan, see OSHA’s press release and the Federal Register.