Starting February 1, 2019, Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) protections will cover public employees such as those working for the Town of Wellesley and those who work in public higher education like Mass Bay Community College employees. Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill into law earlier last spring.
The new legislation will require that the public sector employees enjoy the same workplace safety standards as those who work for public and quasi-public agencies. Although Federal workplace standards will be applied, enforcement will be taken care of by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards, rather than OSHA.
According to the OSHA website, The Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed by Congress in 1970 “To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health…”
Examples of workers not covered under OSHA are those who are self-employed; immediate family members of farm employers; and workers who are exposed to workplace hazards regulated by another federal agency (for example, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Energy, or the Coast Guard).
26 other states have extended OSHA standards to public employees.
Earlier this month a Wellesley town worker survived after being shocked when he made contact with a high-voltage power line while cutting down a tree at Forest St. and Laurel Ave. The worker was treated at a Boston hospital and was released.