OSHA Reform

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 8:00pm

The employer community has long sought changes in how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) operates and the role it plays in workplace safety.

Background

In the 108th Congress, four bills passed the House that would have:

  1. Given the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) the power to grant extensions for filing challenges (H.R. 2728);
  2. Increased OSHRC from three members to five (H.R. 2729);
  3. Restored the deference given to OSHRC by courts rather than the current ruling, which makes OSHRC subordinate to OSHA (H.R. 2730); and
  4. Reformed the Equal Access to Justice Act to eliminate the government's substantial justification defense against paying legal fees when an employer prevails in challenging an OSHA citation (H.R. 2731).

These bills are expected to be reintroduced in the 109th Congress and to receive support again in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Chamber also supports legislation allowing employers to conduct self-audits, which would increase the use of safety experts and give employers a better understanding of how to improve safety in their workplaces. However, such legislation must provide protection for the audit reports, so that employers are not exposed to litigation or citations as a result.

The Chamber is also interested in:

  • Improving peer review of the economic and safety basis for standards,
  • Increased rigorous scientific analysis in support of standards,
  • Mandated review of existing standards,
  • Cost-benefit analysis,
  • Flexibility in meeting regulatory requirements by allowing alternative means of protection that are equally or more protective of workers,
  • Clarification of employer responsibilities on multiemployer worksites, and
  • Penalty relief for small businesses that make good faith efforts to comply, including correction of the violation relatively quickly.

Legislation (108th Congress)

  • Occupational Safety and Health Small Business Day in Court Act (H.R. 2728)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Efficiency Act (H.R. 2729)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Independent Review of OSHA Citations Act (H.R. 2730)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Small Employer Access to Justice Act (H.R. 2731)