WASHINGTON - Four bills introduced by Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) would improve the enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) many rules and regulations affecting small business owners and reduce the regulatory burden, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Small businesses "often find themselves unequipped to negotiate OSHA's reams of regulations and requirements. This legislative package will help to reduce some of the regulatory burdens," said David Wilson, NAHB's president. These bills "will provide OSHA with greater flexibility to respond to small businesses without sacrificing workplace safety."

H.R. 739, the "Occupational Safety and Health Small Business Day in Court Act," would allow OSHA to give businesses more than 15 days to respond to a citation, and H.R. 742, the "Occupational Safety and Health Small Employer Access to Justice Act," would make it easier for companies to recover attorneys' fees when they successfully defend themselves against a citation.

H.R. 740, the "Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Efficiency Act," would add two more administrative law judges to the three-member Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), which hears appeals of violations. At its current size, the commission frequently delays hearings because it does not have a quorum. The measure is designed to address this problem.

H.R. 741, the "Occupational Safety and Health Independent Review of OSHA Citations Act," would require judges to defer to the OSHRC when OSHA cases are appealed to the courts.

"These bills would improve workplace safety and help to level the playing field for small businesses that seek to defend themselves in OSHA actions that are brought against them," said Wilson. "We urge the House to approve these measures and call on the Senate to introduce similar legislation."

Publication date: 02/21/2005