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Blog Author Angelique Sanders

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Friday, April 30, 2010

H.R. 2067 - Protecting America's Workers Act (PAWA) - Official Summary

A hearing on PAWA took place on Wednesday.  So PAWA is now moving ahead in Congress.  It introduces major changes to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The following is the official summary of H.R. 2067 - the Protecting America's Workers Ac.

H.R. 2067 Amends the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) to expand its coverage to federal, state, and local government employees. Authorizes the Secretary of Labor, under specified conditions, to cede OSHA jurisdiction to another federal agency with respect to certain occupational standards or regulations for such agency's employees. Declares OSHA inapplicable to working conditions covered by the Federal Mine Safety and Heath Act of 1977. Sets forth increased protections for whistle blowers under OSHA. Sets forth provisions relating to:

(1) the posting of employee rights;

(2) a prohibition against the adoption or implementation of policies or practices by employers that discourage the reporting of work-related injuries or illnesses or that discriminate or provide for adverse action against any employee for reporting such injury or illness;

(3) a prohibition against the loss of wages or employee benefits as a result of an employee participating in or aiding workplace inspections;

(4) investigations of incidents in a place of employment resulting in a death or the hospitalization of two or more employees;

(5) a prohibition against designating a citation for an occupational health and safety standard violation as an unclassified citation;

(6) the rights of an employee who has sustained a work-related injury or illness that is the subject of an investigation;

(7) an employer's right to contest citations and penalties;

(8) the Secretary's assertion of an employer's failure to correct a serious hazard during an employer's contest to a citation; and

(9) employee objections to modifications of citations. Increases civil and criminal penalties for certain OSHA violators. Requires a state that has an approved plan for the development and enforcement of occupational safety and health standards to amend its plan to conform to the requirements of this Act within 12 months after enactment of this Act.

I'm not sure I understand what the official language is saying.  What I'm seeing is that PAWA extends the statute of limitations for filing an OSHA complaint from 30 days to 180 days. PAWA gives plaintiffs the right to pursue private legal actions in the event that the Secretary of Labor declines to prosecute the complaint. It also strengthens whistleblower anti-retaliation provisions.

There is a legal summary on the Inside Councel web site.  Read it here.

EHS Today Magazine reported on Wednesday's hearing.

What do you think? Will a law like PAWA give us safer workplace?

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posted by Steve Hudgik
View This Post - (2 Comments)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Expands OSHA coverage to government workers, as well as increases penalties. We will come to find out that "OSHA doesn't have enough inpsectors for all the new public workers that are covered". We already here continuously that OSHA doesn't have enough people for enforcement on private employers. Then DOL must expand government jobs to inspect all the existing and new sites covered by the OSH act. Then raise taxes to pay for the new jobs. This all with the increase in fines in the legislation. Increase taxes + Increase Fines = Jobs vanishing from the Private sector. Doesn't sound like the road to recovery.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Expanded to cover government workers? I don't think so. They never subject themselves to the same laws everyone else must live under. Why is that? There are some good points to this new law, but the end result will be government will be expanded. Costs of compliance will go up. Jobs will disappear. And we'll be no safer.

1:59 PM  

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