The House Education and Labor Committee on Tuesday held a hearing on H.R. 5663 the Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010. A casual observer would assume that a bill with such a name would be focused on mine safety issues. However, this bill would actually enact the most sweeping change to OSHA since the 1970s. Rather than encouraging employers in their efforts to make workplaces safer, the bill would place new costs on business and increase the threat of litigation.
The proposal would make it more difficult for employers to reach settlements with OSHA by significantly raising the fines for alleged violations while implementing vague new criminal penalties on companies without defining how the responsibility for violations would be determined. This approach, with the threat of capricious enforcement, will do nothing to help employers to prevent accidents from occurring the first place. To be effective in its mission, OSHA needs to serve a resource for employers as well as an enforcement agency.
The NAM is not alone in our opposition to this misguided bill. We co-chair the Coalition for Workplace that has been urging members of Congress to recognize this legislation’s flawed approach. During yesterday’s Committee hearing Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) demanded to know who the members of the Coalition were. Jonathan Snare of the lawfirm Morgan Lewis who testified on behalf of our coalition, pointed out to the Congresswoman that a list of many of the group’s members is available on-line at http://workingforsafety.com. Additionally, a list of more than 100 Coalition members who oppose the legislation can be found on this letter sent to Committee members yesterday.
Snare’s prepared statement is available here.