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H.R. 1834 (104th): Safety and Health Improvement and Regulatory Reform Act of 1995

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 14, 1995.

Safety and Health Improvement and Regulatory Reform Act of 1995 - Amends the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) to revise provisions for OSHA standards. Requires promulgation and modification of such standards to be based of certain analyses and criteria, including a specified type of regulatory impact analysis, as well as a risk assessment and a cost-benefit analysis which are industry-specific. (Sec. 2) Repeals provisions for separate rules for toxic materials or harmful physical agents. Deems a variance to have been issued as of the date the application for it was filed,if the Secretary has failed to approve or disapprove such application within 90 days of such filing (unless the Secretary of Labor and the applicant agree to a longer period). Sets forth requirements relating to such regulatory impact analyses (both a preliminary and a final one), risk assessments, and cost-benefit analyses. Directs the Secretary, within seven years of the effective date of this Act, to review each OSHA standard in effect as of such effective date under specified criteria, and to modify or revoke such standards as appropriate. Allows each person affected by a promulgated OSHA standard to petition the Secretary to modify or revoke such standard pursuant to this review process. Sets forth substantive and procedural requirements relating to such provisions. Repeals the mandate that, in determining the priority for establishing OSHA standards, the Secretary give due regard to: (1) the urgency of the need for such standards for particular industries, trades, crafts, occupations, businesses, workplaces, or work environments; and (2) the recommendations of the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding such need. Directs the Secretary, upon determining that a rule should be promulgated or modified to serve OSHA objectives, to appoint an independent and external peer review panel to review the scientific and economic data which forms the basis for such standard and such data's relevance to industries and workers that would be affected by it. (Sec. 3) Revises provisions for notices of violations and citations. Directs the Secretary to give notices of violations, with specified periods for abatement (at least 30 days, except that a reasonable shorter period may be ordered if the condition constitutes a direct threat to employees). Authorizes the Secretary to issue citations after a follow-up inspection if the violation remains and the abatement period has expired. Provides that such notice of a violation before issuance of a citation shall not be required in cases of alleged violations causing death or serious injury, or constituting an imminent danger, to an employee. (Sec. 4) Directs the Secretary to establish an office to promote, administer, and coordinate the following worksite-based incentives programs and activities. Exempts from general OSHA inspections workplaces which: (1) the employer certifies have been reviewed under a Federal-State consultation services program or a workplace review provided by a certified person; or (2) the Secretary chooses to certify as having significant involvement of their employees in their safety and health program. Directs the Secretary to establish programs to: (1) certify persons to conduct such reviews; (2) give special recognition (including exemption from random OSHA inspections) to worksites, companies, and other organizations which have implemented particularly effective programs addressing occupational safety and health in the workplace; and (3) provide education, training, and technical assistance to employers and employees in providing safe and healthful workplaces and complying with OSHA requirements. Reserves at least one-half of the annual appropriation under OSHA for such worksite-based incentives programs, effective in the first fiscal year beginning three years after the effective date of this Act. (Sec. 5) Makes certain restrictions under the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act inapplicable to employee participation on certain committees, teams, or other arrangements dealing with employers concerning health and safety of working conditions or related matters. (Sec. 6) Revises provisions for inspections. Revises provisions relating to employee requests for inspections to: (1) eliminate such requests by employee representatives; and (2) make a special inspection discretionary rather than mandatory, while having the Secretary make an inquiry with the employer, upon determination that there are reasonable grounds that the alleged violation or danger exists and that the employer has failed to correct it. Requires that certain inspections be conducted by at least one individual who has technical expertise by training or experience in the industry or types of hazards being inspected. Directs the Secretary to: (1) enter into agreements with other Federal agencies and with States to train inspection personnel of agencies which inspect employers to inspect places of employment to determine if employee fire protection is adequate; and (2) establish a system for referral of fire hazards to the Secretary after notification to the employer, if the employer fails to take corrective actions. Prohibits the Secretary from conducting routine inspections of (or enforcing any OSHA standard, rule, regulation, or order with respect to): (1) any person engaged in a farming operation that does not maintain a temporary labor camp and is employing ten or fewer employees; and (2) any employer of not more than 50 employees that has an occupational injury or a lost work day rate less than the national average. Sets forth certain exceptions from such exemption. (Sec. 7) Adds employer defenses of employee misconduct, or alternative safe methods, or other inconsistent or conflicting requirements. (Sec. 8) Revises OSHA penalties. Eliminates provisions relating to willful and repeated violations. Directs the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to: (1) assess all civil penalties, giving due consideration to their appropriateness with respect to specified factors; and (2) not assess a penalty greater than that proposed by the Secretary. Allows reduction of a civil penalty by the cost to the employer of correcting the violation. Authorizes the Secretary to propose that a special assessment penalty of up to ten times greater be applied in the circumstances of employee fatalities, or an excessive history of serious injuries to employees, caused by violations of certain OSHA standards. Prohibits penalties where no standard or regulation exists. Provides for jurisdiction for prosecution under State and local criminal laws. (Sec. 9) Revises enforcement procedures with respect to Commission review of the Secretary's citations or proposed penalties for employers. Revises judicial review provisions to require upholding, if reasonable, of the Commission's conclusions of law with respect to the construction of OSHA, or regulations, rules, standards, or orders adopted under OSHA. Increases Commission membership from three to five, and quorums from two to three members. Requires at least one Commission member to have expertise or experience in mining. Revises provisions for Commission hearings and records to provide that, if the parties so agree, there shall not be required any formal proceedings, including requests for production of documents or requests for admissions, interrogatories, or depositions. (Sec. 10) Repeals OSHA provisions for: (1) the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), thus abolishing it; (2) NIOSH research and related activities; and (3) NIOSH training and employee education activities. (Sec. 11) Repeals OSHA provisions relating to the already terminated National Commission on State Workmen's Compensation Laws. (Sec. 12) Revises OSHA conditions for approval of State plans. Makes certain conditions inapplicable if the State has adopted alternative performance measures to assure that its program is at least as effective as the Federal program in assuring safe and healthful employment and places of employment. (Sec. 13) Revises procedures for discrimination protection for whistle-blowers under OSHA. (Sec. 14) Provides for OSHA coverage of Federal agencies. (Sec. 15) Repeals provisions for separate occupational safety and health programs for Federal agencies. (Sec. 16) Authorizes employers to establish alcohol and substance abuse testing programs where there is a reasonable probability that any employee's safety or health could be endangered because of use of alcohol or a controlled substance in the workplace. Requires such programs to conform to specified Federal guidelines. Allows employer pre-employment testing for alcohol or substance abuse under specified circumstances. Authorizes the Secretary to test employees for use of alcohol or controlled substances during any investigation of a work-related fatality or serious injury. (Sec. 17) Repeals titles I, II, III, and V of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (FMSHA). Transfers the functions, responsibilities, and authorities of: (1) the Mine Safety and Health Administration to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health; and (2) the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Deems FMSHA standards to have been promulgated under OSHA. Prohibits the Secretary from enforcing any other standards promulgated prior to the effective date of this Act, with respect to activities, conditions, or processes which were subject to FMSHA. Repeals specified parts of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Prohibits requirements of a specified part of CFR from being enforced with respect to any sand, gravel, surface stone, surface clay, colloidal phosphate, or surface limestone mine. Establishes OSHA requirements for mine safety inspections, enforcement orders, and penalties. Requires the National Mine Health and Safety Academy to be: (1) maintained as an agency of the Department of Labor; and (2) responsible for training of mine safety and health inspectors and technical support personnel, and for any other training programs for mine inspectors, mining personnel, or other personnel designated by the Secretary. (Sec. 18) Revises specified OSHA provisions for recordkeeping, reporting, and statistics. (Sec. 19) Adds definitions of the terms "serious injury" and "industry." (Sec. 20) Directs the Secretary to: (1) report annually to the Congress regarding activities under OSHA, including recommendations to avoid unnecessary duplication and to achieve coordination with other Federal laws; and (2) provide for a means for certification of equipment safety, to be conducted by nongovernmental agencies, unless such agencies with professional or technical personnel or materials and equipment are not available.