House Democrats Back Bill to Significantly Expand OSHA’s Coverage
The proposed Protecting America’s Workers Act would expand OSHA coverage to state and local government employees in 25 states and expand it to include federal employees.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat and a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, reintroduced the Protecting America’s Workers Act on Feb. 7 — the ninth anniversary of the explosion at the Kleen Energy plant under construction at the time. Courtney was joined by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the committee and Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections.
The bill would expand OSHA coverage to state and local government employees in 25 states and expand it to include federal employees.
“Nine years ago, there was a devastating explosion at the Kleen Energy plant, which was under construction in Middletown, Connecticut,” Courtney said. “The explosion took the lives of six workers – including that of my friend, Ronald Crabb of Colchester, Connecticut – and injured dozens more. Today, on the ninth anniversary of the accident, it’s appropriate that my colleagues and I reintroduce this legislation to make critical, decades-overdue updates to OSHA. Every day, 14 employees go to work and never come home to their families due to fatal on-the-job injuries. The OSH Act made great strides in protecting American workers, but since it was enacted the American workplace has modernized and diversified. The law should keep up with the realities that workers face on the job today. Our bill is focused on updates and compliance, not on petty, punitive measures against employers and will ensure that today’s workforce is empowered and protected by our nation’s chief worker safety law.”
In August 2010, OSHA cited three construction companies and 14 site contractors for 371 alleged workplace safety violations and proposed $16.6 million in penalties after investigating the natural gas explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems LLC power plant construction site in Middletown. In September 2011, answering a recommendation from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the National Fire Protection Association released NFPA 56, Standard for Fire and Explosion Prevention During Cleaning and Purging of Flammable Gas Piping Systems, which prohibits using a flammable gas as a cleaning agent to clean out pipes. The explosion had been caused by this type of “gas purging.”