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Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
830 Punchbowl Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Darwin Ching, Director
(808) 586-8842
(808) 586-9099 FAX
Hawaii State OSH Plan Web

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Consultation and Training Branch
Dept of Labor and Industrial Relations
830 Punchbowl Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
(808) 586-9100
(808) 586-9104 FAX

ehso blue lightbarHawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH)


Hawaii's public sector jurisdiction includes only two types of government state and county. There is one state government with offices on all 5 major islands, and 4 county governments. State government has an average annual employment of 61,228, which is approximately 12% of all employees included in Hawaii's jurisdiction. The four county governments combined total 17,000 employees or 3.4% of the total work force covered by the Hawaii state plan. As an 18(e) state plan state, Hawaii is required to provide an enforcement safety and health program for public sector employees equally as effective as that for the private sector.

All standards that apply to the private sector, equally apply to the public sector. In addition, although Hawaii's jurisdiction does not include private sector maritime, Hawaii has just recently adopted the maritime and ship building federal standards, 29 CFR 1915, 1917, and 1918 which will apply to public sector workers performing cargo handling or working around marine terminals, etc.

Hawaii has an advisory committee comprised of both public and private sector employers and union representatives who advise the program on all areas of the program -- standards, enforcement issues, strategic plans, training, outreach. The Hawaii Occupational Safety & Health (HIOSH) Advisory Committee has two public sector employers representing the State and one county government, and includes a public sector union representative. Public sector representatives often offer insight into the unique problems of compliance for county governments with limited resources.


Public sector employers are penalized the same as private sector employers, with penalty payment coming from programs' money and going to the Occupational Safety and Health Training and Assistance Fund which is funded solely by enforcement penalties. The beneficiary of the fund, however, are employers, both public and private, who receive additional outreach, training, and compliance assistance.

Approximately 5% of all inspections are conducted in the public sector. Most are as a result of complaints filed by state and county workers. General schedule inspections are based on the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data which helps to identify types of government activities with the highest injury and illness rates. That data is matched to state OSHA Data Initiative data to verify the establishments with the highest rates.

In FY 2000, emphasis was placed on local government because of their high injury and illness rates. While partnership was offered to all four counties, only two accepted partnership. These two counties were provided consultation assistance to develop programs, train county staff under train-the-trainer programs, and conduct on- site visits. The two counties who chose not to participate received traditional enforcement inspections directed at their highest hazard departments public works, police, and fire.

In FY 2001, following an increase in injury and illness rate for state government, primarily in the construction area, state government divisions with employees who work on or in construction were selected for inspections. Letters were sent to the agency heads asking them to review their current safety and health program and improve where necessary and also extended an invitation to participate in training. Those that accepted received training and general safety and health program assistance. Those that did not respond have either received or will receive traditional enforcement inspections.

One of the major problems with local government compliance is the lack of continuity in responsibility and accountability with each change in the Mayor's office. Over the past 10 years, HIOSH has worked to encourage county governments to create and staff positions with oversight in overall safety and health for the county with civil service positions. During the 2000 elections, the voters in Hawaii County agreed to the creation of a civil service position for safety and health. Previously the position was appointed. With this change, 3 out of 4 county governments now have civil service positions responsible for safety and health. Other changes we have encouraged are the inclusion of safety and health responsibilities in performance evaluations for supervisors, and safety councils to share and coordinate training and periodic inspection responsibilities thereby levering the cost for each unit, division or department.


HIOSH provides free on-site consultation to public sector employers upon request. The services include safety and health program assessment and assistance, hazard identification and control, and informal and formal training of employers and their employees.

Consultations include an assessment of employers' current safety and health program and recommendations for improving it and an appraisal of mechanical systems, work practices, and environmental hazards with employee exposures. Employers may request program and hazard training and educational services at or away from the work site.

The employers' only obligation is to correct all serious hazards and potential safety and health violations found during the consultations.

Outreach and Training for Public Sector Employers and Employees

The Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Law, Chapter 396, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), established a special fund known as the occupational safety and health training and assistance fund into which up to $500,000 in fines, interest, and penalties collected are deposited in each fiscal year. The fund may be used for additional state occupational safety and health consultants, occupational safety and health training programs, and Department of Labor and Industrial Relations sponsored safety and health conferences.

HIOSH has used the special fund to pay for one occupational safety and health consultant to provide training and outreach to employers and employees, including those in the public sector, to fund an occupational safety and health training program for small business at a community college, and to cosponsor the Governor's Biennial Pacific Rim Safety and Health Conferences.

Public sector employers and employees have benefited from the special fund as follows:
Financial Aid to Attend Safety and Health Conferences

In 1998 and 2000, HIOSH used some of the occupational safety and health training and assistance fund monies to provide "scholarships" to public sector employers to defray their costs of attending the Governor's Biennial Pacific Rim Safety and Health Conference.

Cooperative Compliance Program

With the injury/illness incidence rate for local government higher than the State rate for all industries, including State and local government, year after year, HIOSH offered the mayors of the four counties an opportunity to participate in a cooperative compliance program in 2000. The counties that participated in the program first received formal training on safety and health programs from the consultant funded by the special fund, then received on-site consultations from other consultants funded by HIOSH's public sector consultation program. The counties that participated in the cooperative compliance program were exempted from programmed compliance inspections in 2000.

In 2001, HIOSH made a similar offer to the administrators of State department divisions that oversee government construction because the injury/illness incidence rate for State government construction was more than twice that of the State rate for all industries in 1998. The State department divisions that decided to participate in the cooperative compliance program were provided formal training on safety and health programs by the consultant funded by the special fund. Only 30 percent of the State department divisions that participate in the cooperative compliance program will be selected for programmed compliance inspections in 2001.

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