Maryland bill calls for state contractors to provide safety plans
Annapolis, MD — Maryland Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore) has reintroduced legislation that would require contractors seeking to work on certain state projects to submit safety plans and would direct the state to ensure the plans are being followed.
The bill (H.B. 24), introduced Jan. 9, also would require the commissioner of the state’s Division of Labor and Industry “to develop a mechanism to assess the safety and health performance indicators used by contractors and subcontractors.”
According to the bill, a contractor or subcontractor would need to complete a safety and health calculation worksheet within seven days of entering into a state contract valued at $100,000 or more, and implement any additionally required safety and health actions.
“The commissioner must investigate as necessary to ensure compliance with the bill and may enter a place of business or worksite to observe the safety and health measures in place, interview workers, and review and copy records necessary for determining compliance with the bill,” the bill’s fiscal and policy note states. “If the commissioner determines after an investigation that a prospective bidder or offeror, contractor, or subcontractor has violated the bill’s requirements, the commissioner must issue a citation and proposed order.”
The Division of Labor and Industry would assess a maximum civil penalty of $5,000 for a first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation, and could ban the vendor from working on public projects for two years.
Two previous attempts to pass similar legislation – H.B. 1510 in 2017 and H.B. 977 in 2016 – received hearings before the Maryland House Economic Matters Committee. Glenn withdrew H.B. 1510 after an unfavorable report.
Another attempt in 2015 (H.B. 404) did not make it out of committee, and a Senate bill (S.B. 279) that same year did not make it out of the Finance Committee.
One impetus for these legislative attempts was Public Citizen’s 2012 report titled The Price of Inaction, which found that injuries and fatalities on public and private construction projects cost the state nearly $713 million between 2008 and 2010. A follow-up report from the public health advocacy group in 2017, titled Take the High Road, looked at the 158 contractors who worked on state projects worth at least $100,000 over a five-year period.
Public Citizen found that OSHA cited 46 percent of the contractors for safety violations in the past decade, and 35 percent for “serious” violations.
“These severe injuries and fatalities are devastating for workers, their families and communities, and come with a significant price tag for the state’s economy,” Shanna Devine, worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division, said in a Jan. 23 press release, one day before testifying in front of Maryland’s House Economic Matters Committee. “It is time for the Maryland legislature to ensure that all contractors receiving taxpayer dollars have an appropriate plan guaranteeing every worker goes home at the end of his or her shift.”