Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a bill to amend the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970. The bill, marked as S. 1580 and backed by Senator Edward Kennedy, seeks to expand the power of OSHA. Major changes that would result from the bill’s approval include:
- An expansion of OSHA protection to public sector workers – presently, 8.5 million government workers are not covered by an OSHA State Plan
- Improving protection for whistleblowers and restructuring administrative procedures related to whistleblower investigations
- Bolstering rights and access to information for workers injured on the job (as well as their family members)
- Raising civil penalties and adding inflation adjustments to those who violate OSHA laws
- Redefining criteria for criminal violations
The bill is strongly backed by those advocating legislation geared towards reducing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. In the Senate itself, support comes largely from liberals, with 20 cosponsors (19 Democrats a one Independent) presently backing the bill.
Bill S. 1580 is presently the only OSHA-related bill being circulated in the Senate. However, several work-related safety bills are currently being introduced in the House of Representatives. These bills are varied, and pertain to similar topics, including whistleblowers, how companies report injuries and illnesses and mandatory inspection reporting to OSHA from large firms. More mesothelioma news.