Are Municipalities (and related entities) Covered by OSHA?

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August 4th, 2010

 This question was posed by one of the LWMMI insured utility districts and the timing was perfect as the August 2009 issue of “The Municipality”, a publication of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities confirmed the response we provided. Here’s the response (slightly paraphrased) from “The Municipality”: Local governments are not subject to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. But local governments are subject to state regulations which are at least as stringent as OSHA regulations. Although OSHA governs the private sector and federal agencies in Wisconsin, OSHA does not have jurisdiction over the state or local governments because the definition of “employer” under the OSHA Act of 1970 specifically excludes states and any political subdivision of a state. Instead, the State of Wisconsin has jurisdiction and sec. 101.055 of the Wisconsin Statutes requires that the Department of Commerce adopt, by administrative rule, standards to protect the safety and health of public employees. These standards must provide protection at least equal to that provided to private sector employees under OSHA standards.



  1. It should be noted that the new Protecting America’s Workers Act, H.R. 2067, if passed will change all this.

    The bill states in Section 101; COVERAGE OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES; (a) In General- Section 3(5) (29 U.S.C. 652(5)) is amended by striking `but does not include’ and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting `including the United States, a State, or a political subdivision of a State.’.

    Thus, providing coverage to State & Loacl employees.

    Comment by Lance L on August 5, 2010 at 11:06 am
  2. Federal OSHA does not cover public sector employers/employees at this time, but State Plan States do. There are 27 State/Commonwealth/Territory Plans that cover public sector (State and local government) employees. There is no coverage of public sector employees at this time ONLY in those States where Federal OSHA asserts enforcement jurisdiction. Wisconsin is not a State Plan State; Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota are.

    Comment by info on August 5, 2010 at 11:33 am
  3. Also, even in some States where Federal OSHA does assert jurisdiction for private sector enforcement, the State has a separate State Plan for the public sector; i.e., Illinois. State Plans can be either comprehensive (covering both private and public sector) or public sector only. The public sector only State Plans are Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Virgin Islands.

    Comment by info on August 5, 2010 at 11:41 am
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