Of the nearly 3,000 bills introduced so far during the current congressional session, a relatively small number would have a direct impact on occupational health and safety.
Aaron K. Trippler, Director of Government Affairs for the American Industrial Hygiene Association, released the following overview of pending OHS legislation, along with his predictions for passage of each bill.
- S 153 – The Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act.
Introduced by Sen. John Rockefeller. The bill would improve compliance with mine and occupational safety and health laws; empower workers to raise safety concerns; prevent future mine and other workplace tragedies and establish rights of families of victims of workplace accidents. Chance of passage – Low. While there are parts of this legislation that have the support of both Democrats and Republicans, the bill is not likely to pass in its current form.
- S 299 and HR 10 – The Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act.
Introduced by Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Geoff Davis. The bills would require approval of a Congressional Joint Resolution before any major rule could take effect. Chance of passage – Very Low. Such a process would slow down the regulatory system in such a way that hardly any major rules could take effect.
- S 474 – The Small Business Regulatory Freedom Act.
Introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe. The bill would require all regulatory agencies to review regulations that a have significant economic impact on small businesses every nine years. This review would focus in part on whether each rule overlaps, duplicates or conflicts with other federal regulations. Chance of passage – Low.
- S 602 – The Curbing Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens Act.
Introduced by Sen. Susan Collins. The bill would require agencies to assess the indirect impacts of every significant rule, allow for a waiver or reduction of civil penalties imposed by agencies on small business, and forbid agencies from issuing guidance documents that have the same effect as regulations. Chance of passage – Very low.
- S 807 and HR 1511 – The Voluntary Protection Program Act.
Introduced by Sen. Michael Enzi, Sen. Mary Landrieu, Rep. Tom Petri and Rep. Gene Green. This bill would codify the Voluntary Protection Program and make the VPP a permanent part of OSHA’s mission. The bill would also require that business not be charged to participate in the program. When enacted, OSHA must implement the program within two years. Chance of passage – Perhaps 50-50 as the bill has substantial bi-partisan support. AIHA submitted a letter of support - http://www.aiha.org/news-pubs/govtaffairs/Documents/S807-Enzi-Landrieu-Support-05-02-11%20_3_.pdf 2
- S 847 – The Safe Chemicals Act.
Introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg. The bill would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act; requires manufacturers to submit specified information on new and existing chemical substances; provide for prioritization of chemical substances based on specified criteria and provide for the release of unclassified information. Chance of passage – Low. While there is considerable support from many different sides for reforming TSCA, enactment will be difficult in this session of Congress.
- HR 128 – Recording Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.
Introduced by Rep. Gene Green. The bill would require site-controlling employers to keep a site log for all recordable injuries and illnesses occurring among all employees on the particular site, whether such employees are employed directly by the site-controlling employer or are employed by contractors or temporary help or employee leasing services. Chance of passage – Very Low.
- HR 190 – The Protecting America’s Workers Act.
Introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey and Rep. George Miller. The bill is the reintroduction of the major OSHA reform measure and would expand coverage under the Act, increase protections for whistleblowers, increase penalties for high gravity violations, adjust penalties for inflation, and provide rights for victims or their family members. Chance of passage – Low. While there are parts of this legislation that have the support of both Democrats and Republicans, the bill is not likely to pass in its current form. Issues within the bill may be introduced as separate measures.
- HR 213 – The Regulation Audit Revive Economy Act.
Introduced b y Rep. Don Young. The bill would establish a moratorium on regulatory rulemaking actions for a period of two years. Chance of passage – Very Low. While there is support by some for a moratorium on regulations Congress is unlikely to take such a drastic step.
- HR 214 – The Congressional Office of Regulatory Analysis Creation and Sunset and Review Act.
Introduced by Rep. Don Young. The bill would require the periodic review and automatic termination of Federal regulations. Chance of passage – Very low. While concept is good, Congress is not in the mood to create any new offices.
- HR 522 – The Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires Act.
Introduced by Rep. George Miller. The bill would require the Secretary of Labor to issue an interim occupational safety and health standard regarding worker exposure to combustible dust followed by a final rule. Chance of passage – Low.
- HR 571 – The Ensuring Worker Safety Act.
Introduced by Rep. Mazie Hirono. The bill would require a heightened review process by the Secretary of Labor of State occupational safety and health plans. The bill provides for greater flexibility for OSHA to oversee State Plans. Chance of passage – Low. While there is considerable support for OSHA to assume more oversight, the State Plans are opposed to increased oversight.
- HR 1235 – The Regulation Moratorium Act.
Introduced by Rep. John Carter of Texas, this bill would forbid federal agencies from issuing any new regulations for two years. The bill would apply to OSHA, MSHA and EPA. Chance of passage – Very Low. It is doubtful Congress would place such a moratorium on regulatory activity.
- HR 1281 – The Restoring Economic Certainty Act.
Introduced by Rep. Reid Ribble. This would also place federal agencies under a two-year moratorium from issuing new regulations. This version does allow for regulations addressing imminent safety and/or health issues as well as regulations that reverse or eliminate another rule currently in force. Chance of passage – Very low. While the bill does provide for some exceptions, Congress is unlikely to go along with such an effort.
- HR 1579 – The Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act.
Introduced by Rep. George Miller. The bill would provide for additional inspection and investigation authority, enhanced enforcement authority, civil and criminal penalties and liability, miners rights and protections, and modernize health and safety standards. Chance of passage – Low. While there are parts of this legislation that have the support of both Democrats and Republicans, the bill is not likely to pass in its current form.