On Safety

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An argument to update the OSH Act

May 27, 2015

Did a Republican just make an argument to update the Occupational Safety and Health Act (which hasn’t been updated since being implemented in 1970)? It sure sounded like it.

During a May 20 hearing convened by the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) spoke not about the OSH Act, but about the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, a law that also hasn’t been updated in nearly 40 years.

“That goes back a ways,” he said. “We’re dealing with lives.”

The congressman spoke about the need to strengthen this outdated law, to modernize it, to improve its integrity and enhance its efficiency.

It also sounds to me like a pretty compelling argument to revise the OSH Act.

FECA no doubt needs updating, but the legislation is designed to help people after an injury. As subcommittee ranking member Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) suggested during the hearing, the best course of action is to reduce workplace injuries and deaths. Wouldn’t strengthening OSHA do just that?

Many worker safety advocates have been pushing to modernize the OSH Act, and legislation to do so has been proposed several times over the years.

I reached out to Walberg’s office for comment as to whether the congressman believes both laws should be updated, given how long it has been. I’ll let you know what I hear back.

The opinions expressed in "On Safety" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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