Four OSHA Workplace Safety Reform Bills Win House Approval

Four workplace safety reform bills, authored by House Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chair Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), passed the U.S. House of Representatives on July 12.

According to Rep. Norwood's office, the bills seek to improve workplace safety through reforming "heavy-handed" Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforcement tactics against small businesses, and establishing better safety compliance by improving working relationships between [OSHA] and small businesses.

The bills are:

HR 739, More Time to Respond to Charges: (The Occupational Safety and Health Small Business Day in Court Act). Since small businesses can't afford fulltime OSHA coordinators, this bill would order OSHA to be more lenient when small businesses need extra time to respond to OSHA citations.

HR 740, Right to a Speedy Trial: (The Occupational Safety and Health Small Business Day in Court Act). Since small businesses can not wait extended periods of time for OSHA to decide their case when not enough OSHA commissioners are available for a hearing, this bill would increase the number of commissioners from three to five so the required two-commissioner quorum for a hearing is easier to reach.

HR 741, Right of Appeal: (The Occupational Safety and Health Independent Review of OSHA Citations Act). This bill would restore the right of small businesses to appeal their case to an independent court if they feel OSHA's decision in their case was unfair.

HR 742, Ending OSHA Court-Cost Blackmail: (The Occupational Safety and Health Small Employer Access to Justice Act). This bill would forbid OSHA agents from filing frivolous charges, knowing it will cost business owners more to defend themselves in court than paying a fine they do not feel is fair. Further, if the business owner can show the charges to be frivolous, OSHA would have to pay the business' court costs and attorney fees.

Organizations endorsing Norwood's bills include the Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Association of Home Builders.

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