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Bill proposes means for increased oversight of OSHA State Plan states

March 18, 2010

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A newly introduced House bill seeks to resolve flaws recently found in state-run occupational safety and health plans and federal OSHA's oversight of those plans.

The Ensuring Worker Safety Act (H.R. 4864) was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). Last October, the Education and Labor Committee -- of which Titus is a member -- heard testimony concerning a recent string of work-related deaths (.pdf file) in Nevada, which is an OSHA State Plan state. Witnesses at the hearing testified about the program's problems and ineffectual federal oversight.

Currently, the only two options federal OSHA has for improving an underperforming state-run program are to ask for changes to be made or to terminate that state's program and assume control. Titus' bill would establish a formal mechanism for OSHA to identify a problem with a State Plan and establish a means to correct the problem without beginning the process of withdrawing approval.

In recent testimony, OSHA administrator David Michaels said he welcomed any additional tools his agency could use to ensure effective oversight.

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