Thursday, August 19, 2004

Jail Time: Increasing Penalties (without other baggage)

Workers Comp Insider has a good discussion of duelling OSHA penalty proposals by Senators Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), as well as the role of workplace safety activist Ron Hayes in pushing the legislation that would hopefully prevent incidents like the one that killed his son.

Both see the need for legislation to make it easier for OSHA to impose criminal penalties and jail time on employers for wilfull violations of OSHA standards that result in the death of a worker. Enzi's bill (S. 2719) would call for an 18 month maximum jail sentence, while Corzine's bill calls for a 10-year maximum.

One aspect not mentioned in the Workers Comp Insider article, however, is that the argument between Corzine and Enzi is not just over the amount of jail-time. Enzi is also using his bill as a trojan horse to push his idea of assigning some OSHA inspection tasks to private consultants and exempting employers from penalties, in addition to a number of other proposals opposed by labor because they would weaken the OSHAct.