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March 14, 2018

Baker signs OSHA bill for public workers

File photo Gov. Charlie Baker

All public workers in Massachusetts will operate under the same safety standards as their private sector counterparts under legislation that Gov. Charlie Baker has signed into law.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act gave states the option of applying those safety standards to public employees. With the new law, Massachusetts joins the slim majority of states that "provide at least OSHA-level protections for public employees before an incident occurs," according to Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Pacheco.

Massachusetts Coalition For Occupational Safety And Health (MassCOSH) Executive Director Jodi Sugerman-Brozan has called the bill "a historic victory for workers in the state." After the bill was sent to Baker's desk on March 1, Sugarman-Brozan said, "Over the coming years, untold number of lives will be saved because OSHA protections will now cover thousands more workers."

The new law will apply enhanced safety standards for 428,510 public sector workers, according to MassCOSH, a union-backed worker safety advocacy group.

Between 2005 and 2016, 52 municipal workers were fatally injured at work in Massachusetts, according to MassCOSH.

The governor signed the bill into law on Friday, according to a spokesman. The legislation received unanimous votes in the House and Senate.

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