Public Sector Worker Health and Safety in Massachusetts

February 22, 2019

In 1970, Congress passed the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) creating comprehensive worker protection standards; all private sector employees were covered. In MA, public Sector employees (outside the Executive Branch) were provided some protection by MGL 149 Section 6 which predated OSHA, so the State did not adopt OSHA standards or create a “State Plan.” Executive Order 511 signed on April 27, 2009 set up Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee to help State agencies build the capacity to achieve compliance with OSHA level protections. In July 2014, MGL 149 Section 6 ½ was passed to give DLS the authority to provide support and enforcement and DLS promulgated 454 CMR 25 – regulations that set OSHA level protections as the standard for all Executive Sate employees.  These regulations went into effect on March 24, 2015.

On March 9, 2018 Governor Baker signed a bill that amends M.G.L. chapter 149 §6 ½. The law was updated to clarify employee safety requirements in public sector workplaces – defined public sector to include municipalities, counties, quasi-public entities, public colleges and universities, etc. – and set OSHA as the minimum standard.  Regulations are being drafted. 

The law went into effect 2/1/19. Please see the below PDF for more information on these new worker rights. Addtional information can be found below.