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Norwood Introduces Bill to Shield Businesses from OSHA

Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-GA, the chair of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, introduced legislation on April 3 designed to protect employers by giving them new tools to defend themselves against OSHA citations they believe are not justified.

Called the Occupational Safety and Health Fairness Act (H.R. 1583), the bill:

  • Gives the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission additional flexibility to make exceptions to the 15-day deadline for employers to file responses to OSHA citations;
  • Increases the membership of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission from three to five members to ensure cases are reviewed in a timely fashion;
  • Uses taxpayer's resources to award attorney fees and costs to employers that prevail in court when contesting OSHA citations;
  • Ensures OSHA penalties are appropriate for the particular circumstances of a case by making sure that employers are credited for good faith efforts;
  • Clarifies what constitutes a "willful" violation of OSHA standards.

"We are serious about promoting workplace safety and reducing workplace injuries and illness," said Norwood in a statement. "But we must also recognize that safe working conditions in this country are primarily the result of efforts by employers and employees, not arbitrary OSHA enforcement."

The bill, intended by Norwood to help small business owners in particular, appears to have solid support from the party that controls both houses of Congress: every Republican on the Workforce Protections Subcommittee has cosponsored it.

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