The Coalition for Workplace Safety, an alliance of business associations, sounded off yesterday at a House of Representatives hearing on a bill to add teeth to MSHA and OSHA enforcement. The coalition said nothing about mines, but plenty about the OSHA provisions tacked onto the bill.
“Instead of improving workplace safety,” the group wrote, “this bill will only increase the adversarial nature of the relationship between Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and employers, and create more confusion leading to increased litigation and compliance costs. This bill contains no support or assistance for employers to help them implement better safety programs or understand better their obligations.”
“Proponents are focusing their attention on mine safety, but in reality, this package would represent be one of the most sweeping changes to the OSH Act since its inception,” wrote Keith Smart of the National Association of Manufacturers. “In many ways the proposal would actually hinder the safety efforts by employers by promoting an adversarial relationship between them and OSHA. We hope that Members of Congress will recognize that this is the wrong approach to our shared goal of making our workplaces safer and threatens the continued trend of improved safety. Placing further burdens on employers at a time when businesses are attempting to regain their economic footing hinders our ability to create and retain jobs.
“Included in this proposal is language that would enable OSHA inspectors to shut down operations and force employers to make changes to their workplaces in response to alleged hazards that may be identified by an inspector. Yet for each day it took the employers to put the required changes into effect, they would be fined $7,000 and, at the same time, not have the ability to appeal the decision of the inspector if his assessment is incorrect. Such an approach represents a huge blow to the due process rights that are inherent in our legal system,” said Smart.
Members of the coalition include:
American Bakers Association
American Foundry Society
American Iron and Steel Institute
American Trucking Associations, Inc.
Associated Builders and Contractors
Associated General Contractors
Council for Employment Law Equity Food Marketing Institute
INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry
Independent Electrical Contractors
International Foodservice Distributors Association
International Franchise Association
IPC – Association Connecting Electronics Industries
National Association of Home Builders
National Association of Manufacturers
National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors
National Council of Textile Organizations
National Electrical Contractors Association
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Roofing Contractors Association
North American Die Casting Association
Printing Industries of America
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Shipbuilders Council of America
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Leadership of the coalition:
Marc Freedman, Executive Director of Labor Law Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In this capacity, Freedman is responsible for developing and advocating the Chamber’s response to OSHA matters.
Keith Smith, the Director of Employment and Labor Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
Josh Ulman, founder of Ulman Public Policy & Federal Relations. For the greater part of the last decade, Ulman has assisted businesses, business organizations, governments and coalitions in developing and implementing strategies for achieving legislative and regulatory objectives on workforce-related issues.
Carter Wood blogs extensively about workplace issues at Shopfloor.org, the weblog of the National Association of Manufacturers. Wood is Senior Advisor at NAM.