House OKs GOP OSHA Reform Package

July 13, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The US House of Representatives has approved a four-bill Republican-sponsored package containing sweeping reforms of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

According to a news release, Representative Charlie Norwood (R-Georgia), sponsor of the four measures, said the OSHA reform bills focus on ” improving workplace safety by reforming heavy-handed OSHA enforcement tactics against small businesses and establishing better safety compliance by improving working relationships between the federal agency and small businesses .” Norwood chairs the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

According to the news release, the reform package’s component bills include:

Occupational Safety and Health Small Business Day in CourtAct (HR 739) gives the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) additional flexibility to make exceptions to the 15-day deadline for employers to file responses to OSHA citations when a small business misses the deadline by mistake or for good reason.  The House passed the bill by a vote of 256-164, with 31 Democrats supporting the bill.

Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Efficiency Act (HR 740) promotes government efficiency and ensures important workplace safety and health cases are reviewed in a more timely fashion by increasing the membership of Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) from three to five members. The House passed the bill by a vote of 234-185, with eight Democrats voting for the measure.

Occupational Safety and Health Independent Review of OSHA Citations Act (HR 741) ensures that OSHRC (“the Court”), and not OSHA (“the prosecutor”), would be the party who interprets the law and provides an independent review of OSHA citations.  The House passed the bill by a vote of 226-197, with nine Democrats supporting the bill.

Occupational Safety and Health Small Employer Access to Justice Act (HR 742) encourages OSHA to better assess the merits of a case before it brings unnecessary enforcement actions to court against small businesses.  The House passed the bill by a vote of 235-187, with 17 Democrats voting for it.

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