Review Commission Loses Its Quorum

Jan. 18, 2002
Employers hoping to contest citations from OSHA will have to wait a while\r\nlonger.

Employers hoping to contest citations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will have to wait a while longer.

The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) ordinarily functions as the final arbiter in contested OSHA enforcement actions. But OSHRC needs at least two commissioners to issue decisions and when Congress adjourned last December, Commissioner Ross Eisenbrey''s term expired, leaving Chairman Thomasina Rogers as the sole commissioner--and OSHRC without a quorum.

To make matters worse, seating a second commissioner is unlikely to be a quick and easy operation.

Because the Bush administration failed to nominate a commissioner when Congress was in session last year, a recess appointment is now impossible. Any new nominee will therefore have to be confirmed by the Senate Labor Committee. At press time the Bush administration had not yet selected a nominee.

Disputed OSHA enforcement cases can still be heard by administrative judges and 90 percent of all contested cases are decided at this level, according to a commission spokesperson.

Decisions made by these judges are final, unless Rogers directs a judge''s decision for review. In that event, resolution of the case will have to await the nomination and confirmation of a second commissioner.

by James Nash

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