From the Occupational Safety & Health Portal of Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley, PLC:
HR 5663 [The Miner Safety & Health Act makes a number of improvements, providing additional tools to ensure that OSHA and MSHA can properly enforce OSH law and keep workers safe.
Specifically, HR 5663 would increase protection for workers covered by the OSH Act by:
Strengthening Penalties for OSHA Violations
· Raises civil penalties and indexes those penalties to inflation.
· Establishes mandatory minimum penalties for violations involving worker deaths.
· Allows felony prosecutions against employers who commit willful violations that result in death or serious bodily injury, and extends such penalties to responsible corporate officers.
Improving Whistleblower Protections under the OSH Act
· Codifies regulations that give workers the right to refuse to do hazardous work.
· Clarifies that employees cannot be discriminated against for reporting unsafe conditions and brings the procedures for investigating and adjudicating discrimination complaints into line with other safety, health and whistleblower laws.
Giving New Rights to Workplace Injury Victims and their Families
· Gives injured workers, their families and families of workers who died in work-related incidents the right to meet with investigators, receive copies of citations, and to have an opportunity to make a statement before any settlement negotiations.
· Creates a new “Family Liaisons” program at each area OSHA office to keep family members of victims informed.
Requiring that Employers Abate Serious Hazards pending contest of Violations
· Employers that contest serious, willful, and repeat violations would no longer be allowed to leave them uncorrected while these citations are being contested and considered by the OSHA Review Commission, a process which can take years.
Significant progress has been made on protecting the health and safety of American workers since the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and Health Administration almost four decades ago. However, too many workers are still dying, injured or becoming ill by working in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. HR 5663 will provide additional tools to ensure that OSHA and MSHA enforcement is more effective.
Read fact sheets by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH), the AFL-CIO, and Public Citizen here. In order to mobilize support for this bill, the firm is asking members of the public to call or fax their House representatives. The NWC supports this effort and thanks Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley, PLC for taking the lead.