[Excerpt] The nation’s job safety laws were enacted 40 years ago. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has never been updated. Penalties are weak even in cases where workers are killed, the government’s enforcement tools are limited and protections for workers who raise job safety concerns are woefully inadequate.
Legislation has been introduced in the Congress to prevent future disasters and protect the safety and health of miners and other workers. H.R. 5663 strengthens the Mine Safety and Health Act and Occupational Safety and Health Act, the nation’s primary job safety laws. The bill – the “Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010” - provides for stepped up enforcement and tougher penalties for employers who flagrantly violate the law and enhances the protection of miners and workers who speak out about job hazards, report injuries and exercise their rights. The mine safety provisions address problems identified after the Upper Big Branch disaster, including increased oversight, enforcement and penalties for mines with a pattern of violations. The provisions to strengthen the OSH Act come from H.R. 2067 – the Protecting America’s Workers Act – legislation introduced last year and the subject of numerous Congressional hearings.