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Friday, September 21, 2012
Feds Take Over OSHA Inspection from DLIR
By News Release @ 2:05 PM :: 6162 Views :: Energy, Environment

Washington, DC ( - OSHA announces the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) decision to modify the Hawaii State Plan's "final approval" determination under Section 18(e) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the Act) and to transition to "initial approval" status. OSHA is reinstating concurrent federal enforcement authority over occupational safety and health issues in the private sector, which have been solely covered by the Hawaii State Plan since 1984. DATES: Effective September 21, 2012.


Hawaii administers an OSHA-approved state plan to develop and enforce occupational safety and health standards for public and private sector employers, pursuant to the provisions of Section 18 of the Act. The Hawaii State Plan received initial federal OSHA plan approval on December 28, 1973 (39 FR 1010) and the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) of the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is designated as the state agency responsible for administering the state plan.

Pursuant to Section 18(e) of the Act, OSHA granted Hawaii "final approval" effective April 30, 1984 (49 FR 19182). Final approval under Section 18(e) requires, among other things, a finding by the Assistant Secretary that the plan, in actual operation, provides worker protection "at least as effective as" that provided by federal OSHA. A final approval determination results in the relinquishment of federal concurrent enforcement authority in the state with respect to occupational safety and health issues covered by the plan. 29 U.S.C. 667(e).

During the past three years, the Hawaii State Plan has faced major budgetary and staffing restraints that have significantly affected its program. Impacts on the state plan are clearly reflected throughout OSHA's recent monitoring reports. Joint efforts were made by federal OSHA and HIOSH to address these issues, yet Hawaii continues to face severe programmatic, staffing and training challenges. Therefore, the Hawaii Director of Labor and Industrial Relations has requested a temporary modification of the state plan's approval status from final approval to initial approval, to permit exercise of supplemental federal enforcement activity and to allow Hawaii sufficient time and assistance to strengthen its state plan.  Hawaii has pledged to accomplish the necessary corrective action to regain final approval status in a timely manner. Hawaii's proactive efforts demonstrate a commitment to ensuring that workers are afforded adequate protection during this period of program strengthening and improvement.

Pursuant to the procedures set forth at 29 CFR 1902.47 et seq., OSHA published notice of its reconsideration of Hawaii's 18(e) determination; proposed resumption of concurrent federal enforcement authority; and a request for written comments and opportunity to request an informal hearing on July 19, 2012 (77 FR 42462). That notice also contains a more detailed description of the Hawaii State Plan and the identified deficiencies. The 35-day comment period closed on August 23, 2012 and OSHA received four (4) written comments, including two (2) requests for a hearing.

Decision Pursuant to the procedures set forth in 29 CFR 1902.47 et seq., the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health has made a final decision to modify the Hawaii State Plan's approval status from 18(e) final approval to initial approval, and to reinstate concurrent federal enforcement authority over occupational safety and health issues in the state, pending the necessary corrective action by the state plan in order to once again meet the criteria for an 18(e) final approval determination. Concurrent federal enforcement authority will be exercised in Hawaii effective September 21, 2012.


For press inquiries: Francis Meilinger, OSHA Office of Communications, Room N-3647, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone (202) 693-1999; email:

For general and technical information: Douglas J. Kalinowski, Director, OSHA Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs, Room N- 3700, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone: (202) 693-2200; email:


Abercrombie and Obama Administrations Initiate Partnership to Improve Hawaiꞌi Workplace Health, Safety Enforcement

From September 21, 2012

HONOLULU –Federal and state officials today formalized an agreement to facilitate restoration of Hawaiꞌi’s workplace health and safety enforcement capacity back to federally compliant levels.

Governor Neil Abercrombie joined U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regional Administrator Ken Nishiyama Atha in signing an agreement that outlines how OSHA and the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ Hawaiꞌi Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) will collaborate to meet safety and health goals and enforce safe and healthful working conditions for Hawaiꞌi’s workers.

HIOSH’s enforcement capacity was diminished when the Lingle Administration eliminated 32 of 51 HIOSH positions during the 2009 Reduction-in-Force (RIF) process. In fiscal year 2009, HIOSH completed only 426 inspections (51 percent) of its goal of 835 inspections.

“We reached out proactively to OSHA to identify a solution toward restoring these important enforcement positions, and the progress we have made since 2010 was reassuring to our federal counterparts and demonstrated that Hawaiꞌi is serious about workplace health and safety,”said Governor Abercrombie. “Since I took office, my administration has achieved the minimum staffing required by OSHA.”

OSHA Regional Administrator Atha signed the agreement on behalf of federal OSHA.

Highlights of the agreement include:

· Supplementary financial support for HIOSH.

· Additional mandatory training opportunities, including bringing more training programs to Hawai'i and providing priority placement for HIOSH staff.

· Assistance from OSHA in developing a training plan for the HIOSH staff –including supervisory development.

· Additional mentoring opportunities for HIOSH staff from more experienced federal inspectors.

· OSHA assistance to develop compliance assistance programs.

Half of the 32 positions eliminated by the 2009 RIF were benchmarked positions that contributed to meeting necessary OSHA staffing requirements. OSHA requires the state to have 22 specific positions in compliance and consultation. Furthermore, only 12 of the 22 benchmarked positions were authorized in the state’s Executive Budget, and only 10 of the 12 positions were filled.

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) oversees HIOSH. DLIR Director Dwight Takamine has been working with federal officials since to ensure that the state meets federal standards.

“The Lingle Administration elimination of positions resulted in a failure to meet minimum staffing requirements,”stated DLIR Director Dwight Takamine. “Governor Abercrombie came into office and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to a strong and meaningful safety program for every Hawai'i worker.”

“Let’s not forget, that safety is also good economics,”added Governor Abercrombie. “When injuries and deaths are prevented, workers compensation costs and additional training costs for new employees go down for employers.”

In September 2010, OSHA released a Federal Annual Monitoring and Evaluation Report (FAME) covering federal fiscal year 2009 that raised numerous concerns about Hawaiꞌi’s program, including further reductions in staff and consultancies, inappropriate classifications of violations and/or hazards, and mis-assignment of administrator duties to the department director.

Although the 2010 Legislature restored 12 of the positions abolished during the 2009 RIF, the department did not move to fill the positions until the start of the Abercrombie Administration.

Beginning in December 2010, the state initiated recruitment. The HIOSH administrator was also assigned back to the management of the division.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act, signed by President Richard Nixon on December 29, 1970, established OSHA under the U.S. Department of Labor. OSHA’s mission is to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.”

States are required to set job safety and health standards that are “at least as effective as”federal standards and may promulgate stricter standards or ones covering hazards not addressed by federal standards. A state must conduct inspections to enforce its standards, cover both the private and public sectors, and operate occupational safety and health training and education programs. Hawaiꞌi is one of 27 states and territories currently operating state plans. Most states, including Hawaiꞌi, provide free onsite consultation to help employers identify and correct workplace hazards.

Photos from today's press conference can be viewed and dowloaded here:

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