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Massachusetts to Provide OSHA Protections to State Employees

Governor Patrick commemorates Workers’ Memorial Day with executive order
extending workplace protections to state employees

April 28, 2009, Boston – At a ceremony commemorating Massachusetts workers
killed and injured on the job in 2008, Governor Deval Patrick announced a
new executive order that could help prevent state employees from meeting a
similar fate. The executive order calls for the establishment of safety
committees in all state agencies to document workplace hazards and safety
measures needed. Safety experts and unions have been calling for the state
to establish safety protections for public employees for years, but prior to
the Patrick administration had been rebuffed.

“This Executive Order demonstrates the Governor’s commitment to protecting
the health and safety of state employees in a truly meaningful way,”
announced Suzanne M. Bump, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development,
Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “We look forward to working closely with our
employees’ representatives to improve the safety of our state workforce.”
Unlike their counterparts in the private sector, public employees in the
Commonwealth are not covered by safety requirements under the federal
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). When OSHA was enacted in the
1970’s, it gave states the option to extend safety protections to public
employees. Though twenty-seven states already apply these regulations to
public employees, Massachusetts does not.

“State employees do jobs that are just as or more dangerous than those in
the private sector,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Executive Director of the
Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, “We applaud the
Governor for taking this essential step toward instituting safety measures
that will most certainly prevent more needless workplace injuries, illnesses
and deaths.”

State employees include highway workers exposed daily to lead dust,
maintenance workers who work with heavy machinery, and electrical workers
exposed to electrical hazards. In fact, the call from unions and safety
activists for health and safety protections for public employees escalated
after the death of a Logan Airport electrician, Roger LeBlanc in 2004, whose
electrocution may have been prevented had OSHA safety measures been

“It’s long past time that our Commonwealth’s government begins to hold
itself to the same workplace safety standards as the private sector and
begin the work of providing safer workplaces for our public employees. Our
public employees are under enough fire in these difficult times. The very
least we can do is get this Executive Order signed and give workers these
protections. The Patrick Administration deserves a great deal of credit for
taking this important step,” said Robert Haynes, President of the
Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “This is a great victory for the Labor Movement and
workplace safety advocates, but there’s much more to be done and we’re
committed to see it through.”

Each year, Commonwealth residents spend more than $50 million in workers’
compensation costs for injuries and illnesses incurred by state employees
alone. According to data provided by New Hampshire’s Department of Labor,
after implementing OSHA protections to state employees in 1998, the state of
New Hampshire reduced their workers comp claims by an average of 51% – and
between the years 2001 and 2004 they saved $3.3 million.

“This is a great day for public employees in Massachusetts who are finally
going to be protected by the same safety rules that have protected employees
in the private sector for almost 40 years,” said Kevin Preston,
Massachusetts director of the National Association of Government Employees
(NAGE). “On behalf of the 20,000 state employees represented by SEIU Locals
888 and 509 and SEIU/NAGE, we want to thank Governor Patrick for taking this
long overdue step. With more effective safety rules, employees will have
fewer on the job injuries and taxpayers will enjoy considerable savings from
each accident that doesn’t happen. It’s good policy and its good business.”

A report released yesterday by MassCOSH and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO
highlighted a state electrical worker who suffered an injury in 2008. An
investigation by the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety found
that the accident might have been prevented had the state instituted a
number of basic safety measures which would have been required under OSHA.
“Today, professional state employees can feel gratified to know that the
hard work they do and risks they take for all of us who live in
Massachusetts is held in the high regard it deserves,” said Joe Dorant,
president of the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and
Scientists (MOSES). “Ensuring the protection of every worker’s health and
safety should be a basic and fundamental right.”

The Massachusetts AFL-CIO is the largest umbrella labor organization in the
Commonwealth, representing hundreds of thousands of working families from
member unions and serves as the voice of working families in Massachusetts.
MassCOSH, a nonprofit coalition representing over 100,000 workers, health
and safety professionals and unions, promotes safe, secure jobs and healthy
communities throughout eastern and central Massachusetts.



OSHA 10 and 30 Hour Training Cards Updated With New Security Features to Deter Fraud The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has quietly incorporate new security features into the OSHA 10 and 30 hour wallet cards issued by trainers to students completing OSHA Outreach training courses. Since several states and many general contractors have made possession of an OSHA 10 hour or 30 hour card mandatory for workers on certain construction sites, there has been an explosion of cases where counterfeit cards were provided or sold to workers or their employers. To get an explanation of the changes made to the OSHA wallet cards, we turned to Curtis Chambers, Vice President of OSHA Pros Inc. (, a national OSHA training company. According to Mr. Chambers, who is also an OSHA-authorized Outreach Trainer, the wallet-sized cards are the same size and colors as before; medium blue for the general industry courses, and gold for the construction courses. However, the new cards have the OSHA logo in the upper left-hand corner, with blue ink used for the “O” of OSHA. Also, there is now a large number “10” or “30” (depending on the OSHA course completed) placed as a very faint watermark located in the front center of the OSHA cards. These two features should make the original OSHA cards more difficult to copy and issue to people who did not legitimately complete the course, according to Mr. Chambers. Mr. Chambers also explained another new feature is the serial numbers appearing on the cards. The old cards had a nine digit serial number printed in red ink (e.g.: 987654321). The newer cards have a two digit number, followed by a hyphen, followed by a nine digit number (e.g.: 21-987654321), also printed in red ink. This feature allows the card to be more easily tracked back to the OSHA trainer who issued the card originally. In addition, the OSHA trainers who issue OSHA cards are now required to keep a list of the student names and serial numbers of their cards on file, not previously required. On the back of the cards, there is now a statement declaring fraudulent distribution or use of the OSHA wallet card is a federal offense. “These updates should help deter the cards from ending up in the hands of people who did not attend the courses, and increase confidence in the OSHA Outreach training program” said Mr. Chambers. These changes affect new OSHA 10 and 30 hour wallet cards issued by OSHA authorized trainers in live classes, as well as for online OSHA 10 hour and OSHA 30 hour training courses that have been reviewed and accepted by OSHA. However, OSHA cards never expire, so older versions possessed by trainees who took their courses before these changes took place are also still valid. For additional information about this article, contact Curtis Chambers at To obtain the OSHA 10 hour training card, go to To obtain the OSHA 30 hour training card, go to .