Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Illinois Receives $1.5 Million in Matching Grants from Occupational Safety and Health Administration

From the Illinois Department of Labor

CHICAGO – September 1, 2009. The United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced today that the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) will receive a $1.5 million federal grant to administer an OSHA State Plan for public employees in Illinois. The OSHA grant is a 50% matching grant for approved State Plans, which will supplement IDOL’s existing health and safety programs to protect public sector employees, including school teachers, state and local government employees, police officers, firefighters and transportation workers.

“We are thrilled that the Department now has additional resources to better protect all public employees in Illinois and I want to thank Illinois’ Congressional delegation, labor organizations representing public employees and federal OSHA for their support and assistance in helping us obtain funding and approval for this important initiative. IDOL and OSHA are dedicated to reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities and promoting safety and health in the workplace through a combination of high-quality enforcement and consultation activities,” said Catherine Shannon, Director of the Illinois Department of Labor.

“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.”

Since 1985, IDOL’s Safety Inspection and Education Division (SIED) has been responsible for ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for Illinois’ state, county, municipal and educational employees. Currently, SIED is comprised of eight inspectors that cover approximately 22,000 public worksites and more than one million employees statewide.

The federal funding will allow the Department to:
  • Increase field inspectors and support staff to increase the frequency and number of inspections of public sector worksites;
  • Help reduce the number of work-related injuries and fatalities, particularly in high-risk professions such as transportation, firefighting, and law enforcement;
  • Establish a separate consultation program to assist public sector employers in providing safe work environments, so that injuries may be prevented or avoided; and
  • Increase awareness of health and safety issues in the workplace among public employees and employers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and 29 CFR Part 1956 allow states and territories to establish plans that only cover state and local government employees -- workers who are excluded from federal coverage. Once a state plan is approved, OSHA funds up to 50% of the program's operating costs.

OSHA currently provides funding to 26 other states for safety and health enforcement. Illinois joins four other states/territories that regulate the public sector only (Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Virgin Islands). Private sector employees remain under the jurisdiction of OSHA. Notice of plan approval was published in the Sept.1st issue of the Federal Register. Please refer to IDOL’s website at: http://www.state.il.us/agency/idol/ for the Federal Register Notice and other Illinois State Plan details.

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