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Arizona responds to OSHA threat to take away construction oversight


Phoenix – OSHA’s threat to take away Arizona’s oversight of construction safety – prompted by alleged inadequacies in the state's fall protection standard – is unnecessary in light of recently passed legislation, an attorney representing the state said in a May 1 letter to the federal agency.

On March 19, OSHA determined a section in the Arizona Revised Statute concerning fall protection for residential construction workers did not meet federal OSHA standards. Arizona operates its own occupational safety and health program and is allowed to have its own standards, so long as those standards are “at least as effective” as federal OSHA's.

To address the alleged shortfalls, Arizona legislators introduced a bill that was subsequently signed into law April 22. Among the requirements are fall protection for residential construction activities 6 feet or higher and a supplement protection plan covering hazards not previously addressed in an employer’s required written fall protection plan. However, if OSHA does not agree that the new requirements are at least as effective, the requirements would be repealed and the state would immediately adopt the federal standard.

OSHA had not responded to requests for comment at press time.

UPDATE: OSHA is looking into the matter, but was not prepared to make a comment on the issue at press time, an agency spokesperson said.