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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OSHA News Release: [09/01/2009]
Contact Name: Brad Mitchell or Scott Allen
Phone Number: (312) 353-6976
Release Number: 09-0695-CHI

Illinois OSHA public employee protection plan receives federal approval

CHICAGO — Illinois today became the newest state to receive approval from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to administer its own occupational safety and health plan for public employees in the state. A notice appears in today's edition of the Federal Register.

Illinois joins New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and the Virgin Islands as one of five states and territories authorized by federal OSHA to administer a safety and health program of standards and enforcement specifically for state and local government employees. The Illinois plan is the first new state plan to be approved since New Jersey was added in 2001. Twenty-one states, in addition to Puerto Rico, have OSHA-approved plans for the private sector that also extend coverage to state and local government employees.

The 29 CFR Part 1956 regulation, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, allows states and territories to establish plans that cover only state and local government employees who are excluded from federal coverage.

"We applaud the state of Illinois for its ongoing commitment to the safety and health of public employees," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. "It's an honor to recognize this accomplishment, and we welcome Illinois as OSHA's newest state plan partner."

The plan will be administered by the Illinois Department of Labor, Safety Inspection and Education division. The program covers more than 1 million public workers, including 161,200 state government workers and 690,000 municipal workers, along with workers in the public education sector. Illinois has provided protection to its public employees for many years but will now meet the additional requirements of the federal OSHA program. Private sector employees remain under the jurisdiction of federal OSHA.

Illinois will adopt and enforce standards identical to most federal OSHA safety and health standards and has committed to bringing all its standards in line with OSHA requirements. The state plan also provides that future OSHA standards and revisions will be adopted by the state.

Once a state plan has been approved, federal OSHA funds up to 50 percent of the program's operating costs. Federal OSHA is awarding a $1.5 million grant for the $3 million Illinois Public Employee Only program.

To be eligible for initial approval as a public employee-only state plan, a state must be able to operate an occupational safety and health program that is, or will be, at least as effective as the federal program.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.