WASHINGTON - The Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee, Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), has introduced a series of bills designed to reform the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). Agreeing with the need to save lives and provide resources to businesses to improve their safety programs, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) announced that it supports legislation designed to advance workplace safety and improve the administrative process.

"The construction industry is committed to improving safety and health in America's work environments," said AGC's CEO Stephen E. Sandherr. "It makes sense to support legislation that seeks to save lives and provide employers with innovative means to provide safety training."

The Occupational Safety Partnership Act would advance workplace safety by encouraging greater use of voluntary prevention programs, improving safety training, and increasing compliance assistance. The bill would allow employers to voluntarily enlist the help of a third-party consultant to help create and maintain safe worksites, would codify Voluntary Protection Programs, and increase the level of government outreach and technical help to employers seeking assistance in developing a safer workplace.

The Occupational Safety Fairness Act would take various steps to improve the citation and administrative process between businesses and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Some of these steps include the ability for small employers to recoup legal expenses should they prevail in court, deference to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission which would operate as an independent body as it was intended in the original OSH Act, and changes in the time periods for issuing and contesting OSHA citations.

AGC said it believes these measures would provide worthy reforms to the way employers interact with OSHA and believes this will benefit its members and create safer work environments.

Publication date: 11/28/2005