HR Management & Compliance

OSHA Administrator, Employers Group Spar Over Proposed Changes to OSH Act

A proposal to increase Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) penalties now being considered by Congress will not result in any actual improvements in workplace safety and health, a representative of a coalition of employer groups testified on Tuesday, July 13, before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor.

Jonathan Snare was speaking for the Coalition of Workplace Safety, which includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He was testifying before the House Education and Labor Committee, which is likely to vote soon on a bill containing the proposals. The bill, which also makes changes to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, could go to the House floor by the end of July.

Snare said that existing programs that assist companies with compliance, outreach, and training would be more effective than increased enforcement.

David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, had a different view. He said companies must be incentivized by penalties to comply with OSH Act requirements.

Snare and Michaels also disagreed on proposals to increase protection for whistleblowers and to make it harder for employers to delay abatement of hazards cited in OSHA violations.

If passed, the bill would make radical changes to the OSHA landscape. Employers should follow the bill closely and review their safety programs for changes that would be needed should the bill pass.

Read a full report on the hearing from Jim Stanley, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, on his Workplace Safety blog.

Jim Stanley will be leading an audio conference titled “OSHA Contractor Crackdown: How Employers Can Avoid Violations and Mega-Fines” on Tuesday, August 10.

1 thought on “OSHA Administrator, Employers Group Spar Over Proposed Changes to OSH Act”

  1. It seems that OSHA has decided to become a government money-maker instead of a regulatory agency. I agree that the increase in fines will not make it safer for employees but instead force employers to drown in more government control. Another government agency “out of control” in my humble opinion.

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