​One Inspector for Every 41,666 Workers is Not Enough!

March 22, 2021

On February 1, 2019, after a decade-long campaign, a new law went into effect that established federal OSHA regulations as the minimum safety standard for public workers. Before the law went into effect, city, town, higher education, and quasi-public authority workers were protected by a patchwork of protections that were grossly inadequate. The law is enforced by the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) Worker Health and Safety Program. 

The COVID-19 Pandemic has demonstrated how woefully understaffed DLS is to meet the needs of Massachusetts’s 500,000 Public Sector workers. With 12 health and safety inspectors at DLS, there is just one inspector for every 41,666 workers. An analysis done by DLS of other State OSHA plans concluded that 18 inspectors would be the ideal number to cover the Commonwealth adequately. Additional inspectors are especially needed to help expand foreign language capacity that is currently lacking. An attorney is also needed to support workers who report retaliation for speaking up about unsafe working conditions.

With an increase of $800,000 in their FY22 budget, DLS would be able to hire an additional six health & safety inspectors and one attorney to cover their capacity needs. MassCOSH is working with its public sector allies to support a budget amendment to increase DLS’s budget sponsored by Representative Jim O’Day. To learn more about how you can help ensure adequate funding for DLS, contact Al Vega, MassCOSH Director of Policy and Programs at al.vega@masscosh.org.