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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Guam

Health and safety laws

Health and safety laws are a crucial part of any workplace, and in Guam, the primary legislation addressing this is the Guam Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1991. This law establishes standards and mandates for ensuring safe and healthy working conditions. Employers hold the overarching responsibility to provide a hazard-free workplace and to comply with all applicable safety regulations. Guam generally aligns its regulations with the federal standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States.

General Workplace Safety

Employers must proactively identify and mitigate workplace hazards through risk assessments, engineering controls, safe work practices, and the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE). Equipment and tools should be properly maintained, inspected, and used in accordance with safety guidelines. Furthermore, employers are required to have emergency action plans in place for fires, evacuations, and other potential crisis situations.

Specific Hazards

Guam has specific regulations for the construction industry to address common hazards like falls from heights, electrocutions, and struck-by accidents. Measures must be implemented to manage hazardous chemicals, including labeling, providing Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), and ensuring proper storage and handling. Special regulations apply to work in confined spaces due to the risks of atmospheric hazards, engulfment, and limited means of escape. Employers must also provide fall protection measures where workers are exposed to fall hazards above a certain height.

Employee Rights and Responsibilities

Employees are entitled to receive training and information on workplace hazards and safety practices relevant to their jobs. They may refuse to perform tasks they genuinely believe pose imminent danger to their health and safety. However, employees have a duty to comply with established safety procedures and utilize provided PPE.


The Guam Department of Labor (GDOL) is responsible for enforcing occupational safety and health laws.

Occupational health and safety

In Guam, occupational safety and health standards are established to protect the welfare of employees across all workplaces. The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), a division within the Guam Department of Labor, and the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program are the primary entities overseeing these standards.

Key Laws and Regulations

The Guam Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1991 and the Guam Code Title 10, Division 4, Chapter 87 - Occupational Safety and Health Code form the basis of Guam's occupational safety and health regulations.

Essential Standards and Practices

Hazard Prevention and Control

Guam's occupational health and safety standards cover various areas, including hazard identification and assessment, engineering controls, administrative controls, and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Safety and Health Programs

These standards also require the development and implementation of safety programs tailored to the specific workplace, regular training for employees on hazard recognition, safe work practices, and emergency procedures, and maintaining accurate records of workplace injuries, illnesses, and inspections.

Specific Industry Standards

Guam adheres to industry-specific safety standards in areas such as construction, general industry, and maritime.

Responsibilities of Employers

Employers are required to provide a safe and healthful workplace, comply with OSHA standards, inform employees about hazards, maintain records, and cooperate with DOSH and OSHA.

Rights of Employees

Employees have the right to a safe and healthful workplace, receive proper training on hazard identification and safety procedures, report any safety concerns without fear of retaliation, participate in workplace inspections with DOSH or OSHA representatives, and file a confidential complaint with DOSH or OSHA if they believe safety standards are being violated.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections play a vital role in maintaining safety and health standards. They help in identifying potential hazards, verifying compliance, deterring employers from disregarding safety regulations, and enforcing corrective actions.

The Entities Responsible for Inspections

The Guam Department of Labor's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) and OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program are the primary entities responsible for conducting workplace inspections.

Types of Inspections

Inspections can be categorized into routine inspections, complaint-based inspections, accident investigations, and follow-up inspections. Routine inspections are often scheduled and focused on high-hazard industries or workplaces with a history of safety violations. Complaint-based inspections are triggered by employee complaints about potential safety or health hazards. Accident investigations are in-depth inspections following workplace accidents or fatalities. Follow-up inspections are conducted to ensure previously identified hazards have been appropriately corrected.

The Inspection Process

The inspection process involves an opening conference where the inspector explains the purpose of the inspection and outlines the procedures. This is followed by a walkthrough of the workplace to observe work processes, identify hazards, and interview employees. The inspector then reviews safety records, training materials, and other relevant documentation. The inspection concludes with a closing conference where the inspector discusses findings, possible violations, and required corrective actions.

Inspection Criteria

Inspections cover a broad range of safety and health aspects based on OSHA standards and Guam-specific regulations. Areas commonly assessed include hazard communication, emergency preparedness, machine guarding, electrical safety, personal protective equipment (PPE), recordkeeping, and specific industry-related hazards.

Frequency of Inspections

The frequency of inspections varies depending on the industry and complaint history. High-hazard industries are subject to more frequent inspections, and workplaces with prior safety complaints may be inspected more often.

Follow-up Actions

DOSH may issue citations and penalties for identified violations. Employers have the right to contest citations if they disagree. Employers are given specific timeframes within which to address cited hazards. Follow-up inspections may be conducted to ensure hazards have been properly corrected.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents should be reported promptly to initiate investigations and the workers' compensation process. Employees are required to immediately report work-related injuries or illnesses to their supervisors, regardless of the severity. On the other hand, employers are obligated to report to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) within 8 hours any accident resulting in fatality or inpatient hospitalization of three or more employees.

Reporting Forms

Employees use the GWC-201 Notice of Employee’s Injury/Illness or Death form to report work-related injuries or illnesses.

Accident Investigations

Workplace accident investigations aim to determine the root cause of incidents and implement measures to prevent similar occurrences. Employers have the primary responsibility for investigating workplace accidents. DOSH or OSHA may investigate serious accidents or those involving fatalities. Investigations aim to identify contributing factors such as unsafe conditions, inadequate training, or equipment failures.

Workers' Compensation

Workers' compensation insurance is a no-fault system designed to provide benefits to employees injured on the job. Generally, employees who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses are eligible for workers' compensation benefits, regardless of who was at fault.


Benefits include coverage for medical treatment related to the workplace injury or illness, temporary or permanent disability benefits to compensate for lost wages, and benefits paid to dependents in case of fatal workplace accidents.

Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim

The process of filing a workers' compensation claim involves notifying the employer about the injury, filing the GWC-203 Employee’s Claim for Compensation form with the Guam Workers' Compensation Commission, claim review by the insurance carrier, and dispute resolution by the Workers' Compensation Commission. It's important to note that workers' compensation is an exclusive remedy, meaning injured employees generally cannot sue their employers in civil court for additional damages. However, there may be exceptions in cases of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

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