Assessment of New OSHA Rules

Democrats who are in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced H.R. 2067, (Protecting America’ Workers Act of 2009) which expands the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and further amplifies the penalties that the Department of Labor may issue to American employers who fail to comply with health and safety laws. This bill subjects all American employers to harsher civil and criminal penalties. A study taken in 2007 showed that 5,700 American workers were killed on the job and more than 4 million Americans became sick or injured. President Obama supported PAWA and previously co- sponsored a bill like H.R. 2067 as a senator. Many believe he will more than likely pass this bill due to the present political climate. OSHA does not cover all American employees, which affects at least 8.6 million American workers. PAWA will work to remove OSHA laws that do not cover all public employees as well as remove an exclusion that affects millions of private employees in making sure they are subject to all safety regulations.  One may be surprised to know that the OSHA laws pertaining to civil or criminal penalties have not been adjusted since 1990. According to civil penalties, PAWA raises the civil fine for an obstinate or recurring violation from $8,000 to $120,000 and for a repeated violation for conduct that results in a fatal accident, the fine raises to $250,000.  Under the new bill, a violation that results in a worker’s death, results in a maximum of ten years in prison. In addition to the new laws, the PAWA extends the meaning of the term, “employer” meaning “an individual occupied in a business affecting commerce who has employees”.  Also, under the new law, an employer may not fire or discriminate against an employee who cannot perform their necessary duties of the job based on the case of a serious injury or mutilation of health. If the bill passes and is enacted, OSHA coverage will expand to millions of employees and will ensure safer and healthier working environments for millions of American workers.

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