By James L. Curtis and Craig B. Simonsen

iStock_000060649768MediumOn International Workers’ Memorial Day, U.S. Senator Al Franken, the top Democratic Senator on the Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee, introduced legislation to amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The legislation would expand OSHA’s coverage to include public employees. The bill would also significantly increase penalties for OSHA citations, raising the maximum penalty for willful to $120,000 per citation from the $70,000 maximum currently in place.

The bill as proposed will also cover millions of additional workers, including flight attendants, state correctional officers, and workers in government agencies. The bill will provide felony charges for an employer’s repeated and willful violations of OSHA that result in a worker’s death or serious injury. The bill will also set a minimum penalty of $50,000 for a worker’s death caused by a willful violation. The bill would mandate that the DOL investigate all cases of death or serious incidents of injury in the workplace. The bill proposed to amend the General Duty Clause to include “all workers on the work site.”

We will continue to watch this legislative effort closely. However the bill faces stiff resistance from Republicans.