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Federal safety standards apply to Massachusetts municipal workers

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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday signed a bill into law that applies federal Occupational Safety and Health Act workplace safety standards to municipal workers statewide.

H.B. 3952 will apply the federal standards to all public employees, creating a new statewide advisory board to evaluate injury and illness data, recommend training and monitor the effectiveness of safety standards, among other tasks.

“Providing public employees with the same safety standards experienced by those in the private sector is long overdue,” state Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement after the bill passed the Senate on March 1.

The new law fills a workplace safety gap, as the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act mainly applies to workers in the private sector, although public-sector employers and workers in certain jurisdictions are covered if they work in one of the 26 states and two U.S. territories that have a state program approved by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.