Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP), along with 10 other Democratic Senators, reintroduced a bill on March 22 that would overhaul worker safety law.
Like its previous versions, the proposed Protecting America's Workers Act (S. 665) would increase minimum penalties for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, extend that law’s provisions to public sector workers, enhance whistleblower protections, and provide extended rights for injured workers' family members.
The bill also includes two new sections addressing multi-employer worksites. One new provision would expand general duty clause protections beyond just the employer's employees to “each employee of the employer or any other individual performing work at the place of employment.” The other new section would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue regulations requiring a “site-controlling” employer to track all recordable injuries and illnesses, including those occurring among contractors and subcontractors. A similar provision was included in a bill (H.R. 170) introduced in January by Rep. Green (D-Texas).
Sen. Murray introduced a similar bill in the last session of Congress, but it did not see a vote. Previously, the bill had been introduced by the late Sen. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and in the House by now-retired Rep. Woolsey (D-Calif.).
Sen. Murray’s bill has been referred to the Senate HELP Committee, and a companion version is expected in the House soon. The bill's chances for passage appear slim, given the Republican majority in the House has voiced its concerns with the legislation in previous sessions.