The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) is “preemptive”; that is, it overrides state laws and regulations in the areas it covers. Since it covers virtually all areas of workplace health and safety in the private sector, it supplants most state work safety requirements. Under the OSH Act, individual states may devise and administer their own standards but only with federal approval and only if the applicable state requirements are as stringent as the corresponding federal standards. Because Massachusetts has not adopted such a plan, the federal law governs workplace health and safety requirements in the private sector. There is additional information and a comprehensive discussion of the federal standards.
The Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development/Division of Occupational Safety (DOS) may investigate public sector (county and municipal government) workplaces to ensure compliance with its policy that public sector employers must follow federal workplace safety and health rules. The state has its own rules for public sector employers that govern asbestos abatement in public places (for example, schools); asbestos, lead, and pesticide training; and informing employees about hazardous substances. There is additional information about state worker right-to-know requirements for hazardous substances.