WASHINGTON D.C. – Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Senator Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) called on Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, in a letter, to commit to a collaborative approach in enforcing the goals of achieving worker safety without inhibiting small business job creation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently proposed several significant regulatory changes that could negatively affect small businesses by adding another layer of uncertainty to bottom-line business operating costs without the benefit of small business review panels or comprehensive outreach.

“During a time when Americans across our nation continue to face myriad challenges in this struggling economy, now is not the time to impose new regulatory changes that will negatively impact our country’s 27.5 million small businesses and their ability to create jobs,” said Senator Snowe. “OSHA has historically adopted a collaborative approach towards ensuring workplace safety while not imposing debilitating regulations, so it is certainly a cause for concern that these new rules have been proposed without the necessary oversight and outreach to small businesses for their input.”

“The Voluntary Protection Programs and the On-Site Consultation program have been invaluable in improving workplace safety for employees of our nation’s small businesses. OSHA should continue to serve as a collaborator with small business, and reward small businesses for implementing exemplary safety standards; rather than resorting to confrontational policies that could deter participation in these effective safety programs,” said Senator Enzi.

In their letter, Senators Snowe and Enzi highlighted three proposed regulatory changes of concern:

  • The Labor Department made a budget request to eliminate funding and staff for the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), which have been effective in creating a culture of safety within workplaces of all sizes since 1982 and currently cover nearly 1 million employees.
  • OSHA proposed a rule revising its small business-focused On-Site Consultation program, which will have the effect of deterring small businesses participation.
  • OSHA recently boosted penalties, and reduced the penalty mitigation structure for small firms with fewer than 25 workers.

The Senators have called on OSHA to reconsider moving forward with these changes. 

A copy of the letter may be accessed by clicking the link below.