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'Common sense' reform hailed by home builders.

The nation's home builders have applauded House passage of four bills introduced by Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) that would enhance worker safety, advance housing affordability and improve the enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) many rules and regulations among small business owners.

"The legislative package approved by the House will make regulatory compliance more cost-effective and make OSHA more user friendly for small businesses, while improving housing affordability and continuing to protect the safety of workers in the home building industry," said NAHB President David Wilson, a custom home builder from Ketchum, Idaho.

Of particular note to home builders are H.R. 739, the "Occupational Safety and Health Small Business Day in Court Act," and H.R. 742, the "Occupational Safety and Health Small Employer Access to Justice Act."

The first bill would allow OSHA to give businesses more than 15 days to respond to a citation; the second would make it easier for companies to recover attorneys' fees when they successfully defend themselves against a citation.

H.R. 740, the "Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Efficiency Act," would add two more administrative law judges to the three-panel Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC), which hears appeals of violations. At its current size, the commission frequently has to delay hearings because it lacks a quorum. The bill is intended to remedy this situation.

H.R. 741, the "Occupational Safety and Health Independent Review of OSHA Citations Act," would require judges to defer to the OSHRC when OSHA cases are appealed to the courts.

While NAHB supports all four bills, in a letter to all House members prior to consideration of the OSHA reform package, the association identified H.R. 739 and H.R. 742 as "key votes" because of their impact to the housing industry.

"These two measures in particular represent common sense improvements that would remove some of the most frequently cited obstacles to our members' ability to respond to OSHA following a citation," said Wilson.

"The overall legislative package will advance job safety while helping our small business employers who are so often intimidated and confused by the OSHA inspection and citation process," he added.

Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) have committed to introducing companion reform measures in the Senate later this year.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 10, 2005
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