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State, OSHA Agree to Restore Workplace Health, Safety

Excerpts from a press release Friday (Sept. 21) from the Abercrombie administration:

Federal and state officials today formalized an agreement to facilitate restoration of Hawaii’s workplace health and safety enforcement capacity back to federally compliant levels. 

Governor Neil Abercrombie joined U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regional Administrator Ken Nishiyama Atha in signing an agreement that outlines how OSHA and the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) will collaborate to meet safety and health goals and enforce safe and healthful working conditions for Hawaii’s workers. 

HIOSH’s enforcement capacity was diminished when the Lingle Administration eliminated 32 of 51 HIOSH positions during the 2009 Reduction-in-Force process. In fiscal year 2009, HIOSH completed only 426 inspections (51 percent) of its goal of 835 inspections. …

Highlights of the agreement include: 

• Supplementary financial support for HIOSH. 

• Additional mandatory training opportunities, including bringing more training programs to Hawai’i and providing priority placement for HIOSH staff. 

• Assistance from OSHA in developing a training plan for the HIOSH staff – including supervisory development. …

The DLIR oversees HIOSH. DLIR Director Dwight Takamine has been working with federal officials since to ensure that the state meets federal standards. 

The Lingle Administration elimination of positions resulted in a failure to meet minimum staffing requirements,” stated Takamine. “Governor Abercrombie came into office and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to a strong and meaningful safety program for every Hawaii worker.” 

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