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Frequently Asked Questions about MNOSHA

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

What is MNOSHA? MNOSHA, or the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as the Minnesota State Plan, is the program and protocol to enforce Federal-mandated OSHA compliance in the state, as well as additional state-specific regulations. The government created OSHA to ensure that every workplace is a safe environment for employees. MNOSHA has two departments: Compliance and Workplace Safety Consultation. Compliance enforces MNOSHA regulations while Consultation works with employers and provides resources to help achieve MNOSHA compliance. What is the difference between federal OSHA and MNOSHA? Although there are many similarities between federal OSHA and MNOSHA, they are distinct agencies. MNOSHA is a department of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. MNOSHA has adopted the federal regulations of OSHA as a minimum standard, but Minnesota can increase or make this standard more stringent. Some important differences that Minnesota has employed include (but are not limited to):

  1. Employers must develop an AWAIR program.

  2. Employers must honor employee right-to-know protections, especially regarding hazard communication (GHS). MNOSHA has stricter guidelines than the federal standard, with annual training requirements instead of the federal-mandated one-time retraining.

  3. Employers with more than 25 employees must create a safety committee. This regulation may also apply to some employers with under 25 employees, depending on their lost-workday case incidence rate.

  4. Employers must pay for and provide all personal protective equipment (PPE) on the job site.

For a more comprehensive and detailed look at state-specific regulations, you can see the full list on the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry website. Does Federal OSHA apply to me, even with MNOSHA? Yes, it does. Employers under the jurisdiction of MNOSHA must comply with both federal OSHA and state-specific statutes and rules. Conveniently, MNOSHA standards include all federal standards plus a few more, so by following MNOSHA rules and regulations, you’ll be compliant for both. What is the difference between Compliance and Consultation? The key difference between MNOSHA Compliance and Consultation is that MNOSHA Compliance plays an enforcing role, while MNOSHA Consultation plays an advising role. After an enforcement event such as a safety violation, Compliance Officers will issue citations and seek to impart fines. The contractor has involuntary participation, and Compliance can show up on a site for virtually any safety reason. Key Takeaway: If Compliance shows up on your site, it will be painful as they could issue citations, may have a stand down, and could shut down the entire site. There will be financial penalties. Because they operate independently from their compliance department, MNOSHA Consultation will not call a Compliance Officer for a violation unless it is an imminent danger to life and health (IDLH). After a consultation event where the violation is not IDLH, MNOSHA issues recommendations to avoid citations and seeks to collaborate with the contractor to increase safety standards, make corrective actions, and take proactive measures with workers and safety equipment and safety systems. The contractor has voluntary participation, meaning the contractor contacts Consultation and schedules an onsite inspection, but the contractor must be committed to making any corrective actions that the Consultation Officer determines upon inspection. Key Takeaway: If Consultation is on your site, it might be uncomfortable for some companies because they are going to inspect as if they are Compliance, but they will not issue citations or fines, they will not have a stand down (unless they observe Imminent Danger to Life and Health (IDLH), and will never shut down a site (unless IDLH occurs). There will not be financial penalties. However, when they issue their written report, the contractor, by virtue of its voluntary agreement, must agree to take corrective action. How does Compliance land on my jobsite?

  1. Chance: A Compliance Officer conducts a drive-by and sees a violation.

  2. Procedure: Compliance have a regular schedule of sites relative to open building permits that they schedule for a drive-by inspection. They will watch the site from a distance with optics (binoculars, cameras, etc.) and record data.

  3. Whistleblower: Someone calls them reporting a safety violation. This could include a union, a neighbor, another contractor, or one of your workers.

How does Consultation land on my jobsite?

  1. The general contractor has committed to Consultation for the entire site.

  2. A contractor, like you, has contacted Consultation to provide advisement on a given construction site.

What are AWAIR programs? A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction (AWAIR) program is a comprehensive written safety and health program that employers in certain North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) are required to develop and execute. What is GHS? GHS, or the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, is an internationally recognized standard of hazard communication. GHS utilizes a universal set of symbols and documentation to ensure that all workers are aware of the presence of hazardous materials and chemicals on the job site. What is “employee right-to-know”? Employee right-to-know is often associated with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) as GHS fits under employee right-to-know. However, it covers more than just hazardous chemicals. Employers are required to provide the entirety of its available training programs to employees upon request, and keep a safety record of employee information. This regulation provides complete transparency for the employee, and protects the employee from any and all forms of retaliation in response to an enquiry about conditions they may or may not have training on. What is MNOSHA’s coverage? Are there any differences between industries? At a high-level, MNOSHA applies to every employer and employee in the private sector, with a few niche exceptions. Self-employed individuals, mobile workplaces, and workers who are protected by another federal agency, among a few others, are not included. Within the private sector, federal OSHA, and in-tandem MNOSHA, have two core standards: 1910 and 1926. OSHA 1910 covers every industry except construction, while OSHA 1926 covers only construction. OSHA 1926 code does not distinguish between residential and commercial construction. These standards are not interchangeable, and some requirements for 1910 do not apply for 1926, and vice-versa. How does MNOSHA enforce compliance? If MNOSHA Compliance finds a violation, the primary method of enforcement is citations and fines associated with the citations. Both your company’s name and a list of citations are public record, and will appear on the MNOSHA website. Furthermore, your business is required to complete and maintain an OSHA 300 log with a complete list of all workplace injuries, which is also public record. Although it’s possible that the Department of Labor could get involved if the case is serious enough, it’s unlikely. However, harm to your business reputation is still evident, especially since insurance companies and contractors will find your OSHA record before working with you. How do I report an accident or serious injury to MNOSHA? To stay compliant, MNOSHA requires that employers report all work-related fatalities within eight hours of the incident, and all work-related inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye within 24 hours. Employers can report an incident by calling MNOSHA Compliance during regular business hours. More information can be found on the MNOSHA website. Can I appeal a case? How can I resolve a contested case? To appeal a case, an employer can file a notice of contest form (pdf) within 20 calendar days of receiving the citation. The employer and MNOSHA Compliance will then arrange an informal conference to negotiate an agreement. Does MNOSHA offer help and resources for businesses to comply with regulations? Yes! MNOSHA was created as a way to protect workplaces and shouldn’t be treated as the ‘enemy’. Their primary purpose is creating a healthy and safe workplace by assisting employers, not punishing them. MNOSHA Consultation is non-confrontational and actively works with employers to keep MNOSHA Compliance off their backs. MNOSHA actively helps employers achieve compliance by:

  1. Offering resources on their website with examples of best-practices by industry, as well as videos, guides, fact-sheets, and accident summaries.

  2. Hosting events and public hearings to provide employers with context on how the process works.

  3. Actively looking to collaborate with employers through multiple programs and initiatives like MNSHARP and the MNSTAR program.

  4. Offering free on-site safety and health consultation services. No citations are issued via consultations.

  5. Providing safety programs and grants, such as the 75/25 Program.

How can MNCLS help with MNOSHA compliance? Our Attorney at Law, Jeff Willett, is OSHA 30 certified and a specialist in helping provide clarity and guidance in construction safety for contractors. We can assist your business with MNOSHA compliance in numerous ways. By partnering with us, we will:

  1. Stand up and defend your business if you receive a citation from OSHA compliance.

  2. Provide an audit on your record, training, equipment, issue at-hand, citation, defense, and more.

  3. Work with you to develop a genuine and true safety program including training documents.

  4. Help you implement changes as a result of your OSHA consultation, and prepare your workplace for OSHA Compliance inspections

  5. Help your business win and receive OSHA grants, worth up to $10,000 in matching contributions for the development of safety programs.

We understand OSHA because we are contractors first and lawyers second. We have experience installing rigging, working 150 ft in the air, and wearing respirators. At MNCLS, we have many tools that can provide you with the necessary assistance in navigating the world of construction safety, particularly as it pertains to MNOSHA. For a free consultation, call MNCLS and ask for Jeff, who has years of experience dealing with these matters.

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