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Pennsylvania completes study on OSHA protections for public workers

Photo: travelif/iStockphoto

Harrisburg, PA — A two-phase study exploring the possibility of extending OSHA protections to thousands of workers in Pennsylvania’s public sector has been completed.

Currently, OSHA protections apply only to private-sector workers in the state.

According to a press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, the study looked at a five-year period (from fiscal year 2016/2017 to FY 2020/2021). It estimated the costs of adopting OSHA standards for Pennsylvania public-sector employees under the governor’s jurisdiction at $54.8 million at baseline and $14.4 million for Year 1. Public-sector workers in Pennsylvania are covered under Accident and Illness Prevention Programs, with individual agencies permitted to select what components to implement.

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has called on the state legislature to pass S.B. 310 and H.B. 1976, both of which would make OSHA regulations applicable to public-sector workers.

The completion of the study is “a step in the right direction,” House bill sponsor Rep. Patrick Harkins (D-Erie) said in a press release.

“I hope the state will move quickly to implement these critical protections, which I call for in my legislation,” Harkins added. “For decades, public-sector employees … have faced unnecessary risks on the job simply because the state does not require public employers to abide by the same OSHA safety standards as private companies.”

The study was completed by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and other state agencies under the direction of an Executive Order issued by Wolf in October 2021.

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