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NAW News

OSHA Reform

updated February 2010
Legislative Issue Update - January 2010

 NAW-opposed legislation to amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) in ways that are highly problematic for employers has been introduced in the 111th Congress. Last spring, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) introduced H.R. 2067, the “Protecting America’s Workers Act (“PAWA”). PAWA is cosponsored by 51 Democratic House Members, including 17 of the 30 Democratic Members of the Education & Labor Committee to which the bill has been referred, and 9 of the 13 Democratic Members of the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee before which the measure is pending.

An increase in “whistleblower” protections, employees’ right to refuse hazardous work, increased civil and criminal penalties and an extension of criminal liability exposure to corporate officers, and a new requirement that employers abate violations for serious hazards even while contesting an OSHA citation are among the bill’s most troublesome provisions.

If an effort is undertaken to move this legislation forward, NAW will strongly oppose it with our allies in the Coalition for Workplace Safety.

On the regulatory front, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has signaled its intention to resurrect a large-scale ergonomics rulemaking, by promulgating a proposed rule aimed at gathering data aimed at gathering data related to workplace repetitive motion injuries.  This initiative is widely viewd as a precursor to an expected subsequent effort to proceed with a rulemaking reminicient of that unsuccessfully sought by the Clinton Administration a decade ago.  As was the case in the earlier instance, the employer community including NAW will vigorously resist this effort and has begun the effort to form an industry-wide coalition to coordinate employer opposition.