Occupational Safety and Health:

Options to Improve Hazard-Abatement Procedures in the Workplace

HRD-92-105: Published: May 12, 1992. Publicly Released: May 12, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO compared the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) procedures with: (1) proposed legislation (H.R. 3160) that would affect OSHA activites; (2) Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) procedures; and (3) the procedures used by 21 states operating OSHA-approved safety and health programs.

GAO found that: (1) H.R. 3160 would allow OSHA to levy substantial new civil penalties if employers refuse to either correct the hazard or remove employees from imminent danger situations; (2) H.R. 3160 would continue the current OSHA option of obtaining a court order to compel compliance; (3) H.R. 3160 would not provide the same authority that MSHA and at least eight states have in imminent danger situations; (4) H.R. 3160 would allow OSHA to require that employers abate serious hazards without suspending the time allowed for abatement while a contested citation is being reviewed; (5) OSHA and state programs lack the authority to require abatements while citations are being contested, but more employers that contest citations will eventually have to abate the hazards; (6) H.R. 3160 would require employers to give OSHA written verification that they have abated identified hazards, and post at the work site a statement that verification has occurred; and (7) neither OSHA nor the state-operated programs require employers to post a description of the abatement action at the work site, and MSHA reinspects each facility to confirm abatement.

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