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
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.