On May 8th, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced future changes to the structure of OSHA regional operations. Basically, the DOL believes that these updates to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) structure will direct resources more effectively. Additionally, OSHA would become more resilient when investigating workplace safety hazard complaints. Markedly, this announcement is one of the latest released from the DOL. For example, in late April, the DOL announced a final rule that expands overtime protections for millions of workers.

Overview of Changes to OSHA Regional Operations

Chiefly, the changes to OSHA operations include creating a new regional office in Birmingham, Alabama. Explicitly, this office will oversee agency operations in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The new Birmingham office will also manage issues in the Florida Panhandle. By and large, the DOL states that the formation of the new office is to address the area’s growing worker population. The agency also noted the increase in hazardous work done by people in the specific area. Notably, that work includes jobs in:

  • food processing,
  • construction,
  • heavy manufacturing, and
  • chemical processing.

The DOL will also combine two current areas of OSHA regional operations into one. Significantly, this will improve operations and reduce operating costs. In brief, Region 10 (based in Kent, Washington) will be combined with Region 9 (based out of San Francisco, California).

Finally, the DOL will also rename OSHA regional offices to associate them by geography. Significantly, this is instead of its current practice of assigning numbers. For example, the area OSHA now calls “Region 4” will be renamed the “Atlanta Region.” This region has jurisdiction over Florida (excluding the Panhandle), Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Similarly, the current “Region 6” will be renamed the “Dallas Region.” Specifically, that region has jurisdiction over workplace safety issues in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

OSHA Statement on the Regional Operations Changes

“The changes reflect the nation’s demographic and industrial changes since the passage of the OSH Act and will allow our professionals to better respond to the needs of all workers, including those historically underserved,” explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “With a stronger enforcement presence in the South and more consolidated state oversight and whistleblower presence in the West — an area dominated by states that operate their OSHA programs — we can direct our resources where they’re needed most.”

Employer Takeaways

In conclusion, OSHA plans to fully transition to its new regional structure later in fiscal year 2024. In short, once implemented, the agency’s regional maps and contact information online will be updated publicly. Employers should research those documents once released to see if any OSHA regional operations affecting them changed.