OSHA-Approved State Plans: How They’re Different

Work Crew
April 02, 2019

Did you know that some states have their own version OSHA regulations? Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, states are allowed to adopt and implement their own laws and regulations related to the health and safety of their workers.

So what is the difference between federal OSHA and OSHA-approved state plans?

The OSH Act requires the state plans to be “at least as effective” as the federal regulations. Meaning states are allowed (and in some cases encouraged) to go above-and-beyond the federal requirements.

Most state plans adopt the exact same regulations as the federal standards. Additionally, they may cover hazards not addressed by federal OSHA. At a minimum, state plans must:

  • Conduct inspections to enforce its standards
  • Cover state and local government workers
  • Operate occupational safety and health training and education programs

State plans are not operated or enforced by the federal government. Instead, state governments oversee their own occupational safety and health programs. The federal government does however monitor and evaluate OSHA-approved state plans on an annual basis.

According to the OSHA website, this is done by:

  • Determining whether the State Plan operates at least as effectively as Federal OSHA
  • Tracking a State Plan’s progress in achieving its strategic and annual performance goals
  • Ensuring that the State Plan is meeting its mandated OSH Act responsibilities

States with an OSHA-Approved State Plan

Currently, there are 21 states (and Puerto Rico) that have their own plan which covers both the private sector and state and local government employees. Additionally, there are 5 states (and one US territory) that currently cover only state and local government employees. Private industries within these states are regulated by Federal OSHA. Here’s a map from OSHA showing the states with their own plan:

OSHA State Plans

What Employers Need to Know About State Plans

Because state plans must be “at least as effective” as the federal regulations, you can still use the Federal OSHA website to look up the laws and specific standards related to occupational safety and health.

However, it’s important to remember that your State Plan might go above-and-beyond the minimum requirements. So even if you’re in compliance with the federal regulations, you might be falling short of your state requirements.

So how do you ensure compliance for your organization?

Follow this link to learn about the specific laws and regulations enforced in your State Plan.

Another key difference you should be aware of is that state plans have established their own fines and penalties for non-compliance. They also have their own system for the review and appeal of citations, penalties, and abatement periods.

Organizations that operate under a State Plan might also be more likely to experience an OSHA inspection. This is simply due to the fact that state agencies are able to cover more ground than the federal government.

A benefit to employees is that state plans are typically faster at responding to complaints and requests for assistance.

Employers might also see that as a benefit, rather than a drawback. Remember, state plans must meet the minimum requirements that the federal plan has. That includes education, outreach, and penalty-free consultations.

Regulatory Compliance Software

In order to understand what regulations, policies, and obligations are applicable to your organization, you may want to consider using regulatory compliance software. Eliminate non-compliance risks by using a system like the Enablon solution.

With our solution, you’ll be able to:

  • Determine which rules and regulations are applicable to your organization
  • Ensure regulatory compliance with OSHA and other state-approved plans
  • Improve efficiency and accountability within your organization
  • Prepare for regulatory changes, and always be ready to adapt

If you’re interested in learning about Enablon’s regulatory compliance software, or any of our other EHS management solutions, contact a representative today. You’re faced with enough safety challenges already. Don’t let the fear of non-compliance be another one. We can help.

View the recording of our webinar with J.M. Huber and Arcadis to learn valuable tips and best practices on the EHS software journey, including software selection, implementation, roll out, user adoption, and change management:

Webinar - EHS Software Journey


Gina Gould

Gina Gould