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NAW News

OSHA Reform

- January 2012

In the 111th Congress, a House Committee passed an OSHA reform bill -- the NAW-opposed “Protecting America’s Workers Act” (“PAWA”) – but the legislation was never acted upon by the full House. At the outset of the current 112th Congress in January 2011, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-7), the ranking minority member of the workforce panel’s Workforce Protections Subcommittee reintroduced PAWA in the House (H.R. 190) and in June 2011, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced its Senate companion (S. 1166). However, this legislation stands no chance of passage in the GOP-dominated House and virtually no chance of passage in the Senate.

PAWA favors confrontation over cooperation as the better approach to workplace health and safety regulation, and the Republican House majority prefers consultation to heavy-handed enforcement as the more effective regulatory approach.

However, we believe the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will continue to be actively engaged in new regulatory initiatives for the remainder of the Obama Administration. In mid-May, OSHA re-opened the public record on a proposed rule aimed at gathering data related to workplace repetitive motion injuries. In January 2011, OSHA had withdrawn the proposal from Office of Management & Budget review in order to gather additional small business input. Were publication of a final rule to occur, concern in the employer community about prospects for a more extensive ergonomics rulemaking would certainly be re-ignited.

Timing for the publication of a proposed “Injury and Illness Prevention Program” (“I2P2”) rule requiring all employers to implement injury and illness prevention programs once thought likely to be promulgated in the summer of 2011, is now unclear. OSHA indicates that the I2P2 rulemaking will “provide employers the tools necessary to find and fix their own workplace safety and health hazards. Moreover, this rulemaking is projected to enhance worker’s voice and participation in the process, as well as establish guidelines and require employers to implement their own process that proactively addresses workplace safety and health hazards and ultimately reduces workplace injuries and illnesses.”

(For more information on these and similar issues see the separate staff report “Regulatory Agenda and Oversight.”)