The Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division (HIOSH) is comprised of two major programs:
- Occupational Safety and Health, which administers the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Law, Chapter 396, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS); and
- Boiler and Elevator Safety, which administers the Hawaii Boiler and Elevator Safety Law, Chapter 397, HRS.
Occupational Safety and Health
The Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Law and Regulations are intended to assure safe and healthful working conditions for the women and men of the State. Employers are responsible to furnish employees with workplaces that are safe and free from recognized hazards
Hawaii is one of 26 jurisdictions approved by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to operate its own state’s safety and health program under Section 18(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. HIOSH administers Hawaii’s State Plan Program. This program has jurisdiction over most employment in the State in both the private and public sector, with some exceptions (such as domestic workers, U.S. Postal Service, maritime activity, e.g. shipbuilding, marine terminals and longshoring). OSHA and HIOSH signed a new OSA on April 13, 2017, which replaced the prior 2012 OSA. Federal OSHA retains coverage over all federal employees, contractors, and subcontractors at Hawaii National Parks and on any other federal establishment where the land is determined to be under exclusive federal jurisdiction; private-sector maritime activities; private-sector employees within the secured borders of all military installations where access is controlled; the U.S. Postal Service, its contract workers, and contractor-operated facilities; and the enforcement of Section 11(c) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 660(c), the Act’s whistleblower provision. The Hawaii State Plan retains coverage over all state and local government employers and regains coverage over all private-sector employers not covered by federal OSHA, including marine construction not performed on vessels or other floating facilities.
HIOSH administers the Occupational Safety and Health Program through several activities, including:
The State Department of Labor adopts safety and health standards (administrative rules) in accordance with Chapter 91, HRS. HIOSH generally adopts Federal OSHA standards in their entirety. There are instances, however, in which HIOSH has made modifications to conform to Hawaii’s law. Employers are required to comply with safety and health standards covering conditions and operations in their workplace.
The State has also adopted its own laws and regulations affecting HIOSH, including certificate of fitness for blasters and pyrotechnics specialists, hoisting machine operators, and certified safety and health professionals.
The laws and regulations are enforced through workplace inspections conducted by HIOSH compliance officers (Occupational Safety and Health Compliance Officers (OSHCOs), and Environmental Health Specialists (EHSs)). Inspections are conducted without advance notice (§ 396-4(b)(6), HRS). If the employer objects to the inspection, HIOSH can obtain a search warrant (§ 396-4(d)(1), HRS). Where violations of standards or regulations are found, citations are issued. Where the violation’s classification is determined to be serious, willful or repeat, a penalty shall be proposed (§ 396-10(b), -10(f), HRS). Under the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, such penalties are first-instance sanctions (i.e., no warning upon initial finding).
Inspections are also conducted as a part of an inspection scheduling system (ISS) that identifies industries or work processes that are considered “high-hazard”. These “high-hazard” industries are identified in HIOSH’s Annual List of Emphasis Industries for Inspection. Inspections are also conducted in response to an event (i.e. accident, complaint, referral, or results from a previous inspection).
Employers have several options after an inspection and the receipt of a citation [see Chapter 396 HRS]. These options are explained by the Occupational Safety and Health Compliance Officers (OSHCOs) or the Environmental Health Specialists (EHSs) during the closing conference of the inspection. Prior to making a decision, employers can request an informal conference with HIOSH to discuss the citation.
The Consultation and Training Branch provides free on-site consultations
for employers that identify workplace hazards, recommends corrective actions and evaluates and makes recommendations to improve an employer’s safety and health management system in order to prevent future hazards. Priority for the service is to smaller employers in high-hazard industries, or with high-hazard processes.
The public can also call the Branch (808-586-9100) to inquire about safety and health standards and other related topics.
For employers who are developing an effective workplace safety and health management systems or who have achieved one, HIOSH operates two programs to provide recognition and incentives, such as programmed inspection (part of the ISS) exemptions. These are SHARP (Safety & Health Achievement Recognition Program) and VPP (Voluntary Protection Program).
Employer Responsibilities under the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Law
• Provide a place of employment that is safe and free from recognized hazards.
• Make reports as required by the rules and regulations (e.g., report some accidents within 8 hours)
• Maintain records as necessary (i.e., injury and illness reports*, employee exposure records, medical surveillance records);
• Post posters and information as required (e.g., Hawaii Labor Law poster, OSHA-300A log, citations).
* Recordkeeping of injuries and illnesses
Some employers are required to keep records of injuries and illnesses which is a means of storing factual information about certain accidents and related injuries and illnesses. This becomes a valuable tool as facts are determined, causes often identified, and control procedures instituted to prevent similar occurrences in the future. From February 1 – April 30 each year, these employers need to post the OSHA Form 300A – Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses in their workplaces.
Employee Responsibilities and Rights under the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Law
• Comply with rules, regulations and orders.
• File complaints related to workplace safety & health issues to HIOSH.
• Participate in inspections.
• Receive notification of non-action by HIOSH on a complaint made by an employee or employee representative on alleged violations.
• Have the right to contest the initial correction period for a violation, as well as the employer’s request for additional time (petition for modification of abatement date (PMA)).
• Protected from discrimination for exercising rights under the law.
• Identity as a complainant or as a witness shall not be disclosed by HIOSH without prior permission.
• Affected employees or their representatives have the opportunity to participate as parties to hearings before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.
Boiler and Elevator Safety
The Boiler and Elevator Safety Law is intended to provide for the safe operation and use of boilers, pressure systems, amusement rides, and elevators and kindred equipment in the state of Hawaii. It is administered through the Boiler and Elevator Inspection Branch of HIOSH.
Like the Occupational Safety and Health part of HIOSH, standards are adopted and enforced through compliance inspections and investigations. Permits to operate are issued regarding any boiler, pressure system, amusement ride, or elevator and kindred equipment if found to be safe in accordance with these standards. In addition, Branch staff reviews and approves plans for new installation, repairs, or modification of equipment covered by this Law.
If you own or manage a building and need to install, repair, alter or relocate boiler and pressure systems or to install, construct, alter, or modernize any elevator or kindred equipment, forms are available on the website to apply for permits.
HIOSH CONTACT INFORMATION