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On abatement issue, will Washington state affect Washington D.C.? (5/13)



Will abatement-during-appeals bills like the one enacted last month in Washington state ultimately reverberate in Washington, D.C.?

Washington became only the second state in the union (after Oregon) to require business to correct serious safety violations before their appeals are resolved. That state-level action echoed a provision in OSHA reform legislation introduced during the last session of Congress. That bill did not pass.

Aaron K. Trippler, Director of Government Affairs for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), said that state-level activities “probably won’t have a major impact on the federal discussion.”

However, Trippler pointed out that an OSHA analysis identified at least 30 appealed cases from 1999 to 2009 where a fatality occurred at the same site before the appeal was resolved.

”I’m sure some employers would argue that to abate this hazard before the appeal is settled could cost them substantial dollars,” Trippler said. “It seems to me some sort of compromise could be worked out to assure that these hazards do not threaten worker health and safety.”

Prior to Washington state’s passage of Senate bill 5068, business in the state who were appealing a serious workplace violation did not have to correct the hazard involved until the appeal was resolved – a process that could take years.

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