U.S. House of Representatives Passes OSHA Reform Bills
The U.S. House of Representatives passed four Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reform bills on July 12, giving small businesses the same capabilities to legally fight OSHA citations as larger businesses.
The four bills passed include:
H.R. 739 - The OSHA Small Business Day in Court Act
Grants Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) additional flexibility to waive the 15-day deadline for employers to file responses to OSHA citations.
H.R. 740 - The OSHA Review Commission Efficiency Act
Ensures businesses have the right to a speedy trial. Increases the number of OSHRC members from three to five, making it easier to reach its required two-commissioner quorum.
H.R. 741 - The OSHA Independent Review of Citations Act
Gives businesses the right to appeal to an independent court if they feel OSHA made an unfair decision in their case.
H.R. 742 - The OSHA Small Employer Access to Justice Act
Allows companies with fewer than 100 employees to recover attorney's fees if the business owner successfully challenges an OSHA citation.
Rep. Charles W. Norwood (R-GA), who introduced the four bills on February 10, summarizes H.R. 742 as a bill that will put a stop to "OSHA court-cost blackmail."
"No person, group, corporation or agency in America should be above the law," says Norwood, "and the combined effects of these bills we passed today ensure that will stand true with OSHA. When these bills are signed into law, American citizens will once again have their full due process rights if faced with OSHA charges and the ability to hold this agency accountable in court if those charges are frivolous. The net result is that, with the ability to commit regulatory abuses reigned in, this agency will simply be forced to start working with small businesses and workers to improve workplace safety, which should have been the goal all along."
The reform bills now await passage in the Senate. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia chairs the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which has jurisdiction over OSHA issues.
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