WASHINGTON - Four Occupational Safety and Health Administration reform bills will provide businesses with a more fair process in dealing with OSHA citations, according to two contractor groups.
The four bills, which were passed in July by the U.S. House of Representatives, have support from the Associated General Contractors and the Associated Builders and Contractors.
"Safety is our members' first priority. AGC works closely with OSHA to improve contractor and worker awareness of good safety practices," said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors. "AGC believes these reforms will help to level the playing field for contractors, and assure that contractors who are cited by OSHA for safety receive due process."
According to AGC, one bill that will have the greatest impact on contractors is H.R. 739, which allows the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to make exceptions to the current 15-day deadline for employers to contest citations or proposed penalties.
The other reform bills include H.R. 742, designed to make it easier for small businesses to recover attorneys' fees when they successfully defend against an OSHA citation. H.R. 741 would ensure that the courts defer to the review commission on matters of law, restoring the independent review of citations and ensuring that OSHA is not the interpreter of the law.
Finally, H.R. 740 proposes to expand the number of commission members from three to five, to deal with situations where the commission does not have a quorum.
"ABC's 23,000 member firms are pleased to see lawmakers take such a common-sense approach to this issue," said Kirk Pickerel, ABC president and CEO. "We urge the Senate to promptly act on this matter. This legislation will not change workplace safety guidelines, but will provide small businesses with an equal footing to that of large corporations when working with OSHA."