Menendez Cosponsors Bill to Keep Workers Safe, Hold Companies Accountable for Workplace Violations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today joined colleagues in introducing legislation to keep workers safe by requiring the publication of workplace violations. The Keeping Workers Safe Act directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to announce major violations by companies and distribute them to local media and related labor and trade organizations, a practice which has been shown to boost workplace safety.
“As we continue to battle COVID-19 across the country, we must ensure that workers are protected and employers provide safe working conditions,” said Sen. Menendez. “The Keeping Workers Safe Act will protect and empower workers, hold employers accountable, and keep our economy moving forward.”
The Keeping Workers Safe Act would amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to require the OSHA Administrator to publicly disclose civil penalties greater than $60,000 or multiple serious or repeated violations within seven days of a citation being issued. It would require these disclosures to be submitted to relevant regional and local newspapers, trade or industry organizations, labor organizations, and State and local government entities in the region where the employer is located.
A recent Duke University study found that one OSHA press release on a major violation resulted in the equivalent compliance measures of 210 inspections. Based on the number of serious violations found each year, the effectiveness of OSHA inspections could be doubled by mandating these notices. The study, which appeared in the American Economic Review, examined OHSA releases sent to local newspapers, finding a direct association between their being issued and improved workplace compliance. It’s estimated that workplace injuries cost $2.5 billion annually.
The legislation is also sponsored by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The Keeping Workers Safe Act is supported by the National Employment Law Project, the Center for American Progress, UNITED HERE, and Teamsters.