A bill called the Protecting America’s Workers Act was recently introduced by Sen. Perry Murray in order to strengthen OSHA’s workplace enforcement. Murray states, “This legislation is a long over due update to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It’s a good step towards making workplaces safer and healthier across America.”
If the bill passes OSHA will be given more powerful enforcement tools such as:
1.) Raising the jail sentence from a maximum of 6 years to a maximum of 10 years for employers that know about a violation which eventually leads to a death. It would also change the violation from a misdemeanor to a felony.
2.) Fines for violations would increase and would also be subject to periodic increases because of inflation.
3.) Employers will have to protect all workers at their sites, not just those directly employed by them. For example a contractor must also be protected.
4.) Employers will be forced to correct citations even if they are protesting them. Right now OSHA can’t make employers fix a hazard if it is being contested. Contesting a citation can sometimes last years.
Other provisions of the bill include:
1.) Strengthening protection for whistleblowers.
2.) Increasing communication between accident victims or their families and OSHA.
3.) Expanding OSHA’s authority to federal, state and local government workplaces.
The bill is currently in legislation where it is hoped to make headway in the Senate. It will be interesting to see if this bill is passes as similar bills in the past have not. Making sure workplace safety is enforced and that companies are taking it seriously is extremely important. Protecting your workers by providing a safe work environment and high quality safety products should also be at the top of employers lists.
Hamby, Chris. “Bill Aims to Strengthen OSHA Workplace Enforcement.” www.publicintegrity.org. March 28, 2013. April 3, 2013. <http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/28/12403/bill-aims-strengthen-osha-workplace-enforcement>