Historical Notes

This reprint generally retains the section numbers originally created by Congress in the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, Pub. L. 91-596, 84 Stat 1590. This document includes some editorial changes, such as changing the format to make it easier to read, correcting typographical errors, and updating some of the margin notes. Because Congress enacted amendments to the Act since 1970, this version differs from the original version of the OSH Act. It also differs slightly from the version published in the United States Code at 29 U.S.C. 661 et seq . For example, this reprint refers to the statute as the "Act" rather than the "chapter." This reprint reflects the provisions of the OSH Act that are in effect as of January 1, 2004. Citations to Public Laws which made important amendments to the OSH Act since 1970 are set forth in the margins and explanatory notes are included below. NOTE: Some provisions of the OSH Act may be affected by the enactment of, or amendments to, other statutes. Section 17(h)(1), 29 U.S.C. 666, is an example. The original provision amended section 1114 of title 18 of the United States Code to include employees of "the Department of Labor assigned to perform investigative, inspection, or law enforcement functions" within the list of persons protected by the provisions to allow prosecution of persons who have killed or attempted to kill an officer or employee of the U.S. government while performing official duties. This reprint sets forth the text of section 17(h) as enacted in 1970. However, since 1970, Congress has enacted multiple amendments to 18 U.S.C. 1114. The current version does not specifically include the Department of Labor in a list; rather it states that "Whoever kills or attempts to kill any officer or employee of the United States or of any agency in any branch of the United States Government (including any member of the uniformed services) while such officer or employee is engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties, or any person assisting such an officer or employee in the performance of such duties or on account of that assistance shall be punished . . ." as provided by the statute. Readers are reminded that the official version of statutes can be found in the current volumes of the United States Code, and more extensive historical notes can be found in the current volumes of the United States Code Annotated. Amendments On January 2, 1974, section 2(c) of Pub. L. 93-237 replaced the phrase "7(b)(6)" in section 28(d) of the OSH Act with "7(b)(5)". 87 Stat. 1023. Note: The text of Section 28 (Economic Assistance to Small Business) amended Sections 7(b) and Section 4(c)(1) of the Small Business Act. Because these amendments are no longer current, the text of section 28 is omitted in this reprint. For the current version, see 15 U.S.C. 636. In 1977, the U.S. entered into the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977, Sept. 7, 1977, U.S.-Panama, T.I.A.S. 10030, 33 U.S.T. 39. In 1979, Congress enacted implementing legislation. Panama Canal Act of 1979, Pub. L. 96-70, 93 Stat. 452 (1979). Although no corresponding amendment to the OSH Act was enacted, the Canal Zone ceased to exist in 1979. The U.S. continued to manage, operate and facilitate the transit of ships through the Canal under the authority of the Panama Canal Treaty until December 31, 1999, at which time authority over the Canal was transferred to the Republic of Panama. On March 27, 1978, Pub. L. 95-251, 92 Stat. 183, replaced the term "hearing examiner(s)" with "administrative law judge(s)" in all federal laws, including sections 12(e), 12(j), and 12(k) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 661. On October 13, 1978, Pub. L. 95-454, 92 Stat. 1111, 1221, which redesignated section numbers concerning personnel matters and compensation, resulted in the substitution of section 5372 of Title 5 for section 5362 in section 12(e) of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 661. On October 17, 1979, Pub. L. 96-88, Title V, section 509(b), 93 Stat. 668, 695, redesignated references to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to the Department of Health and Human Services and redesignated references to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. On September 13, 1982, Pub. L. 97-258, §4(b), 96 Stat. 877, 1067, effectively substituted "Section 3324(a) and (b) of Title 31" for "Section 3648 of the Revised Statutes, as amended (31 U.S.C. 529)" in section 22 (e)(8), 29 U.S.C. 671, relating to NIOSH procurement authority. On December 21, 1982, Pub. L. 97-375, 96 Stat. 1819, deleted the sentence in section 19(b) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 668, that directed the President of the United States to transmit annual reports of the activities of federal agencies to the House of Representatives and the Senate. On October 12, 1984, Pub. L. 98-473, Chapter II, 98 Stat. 1837, 1987, (commonly referred to as the "Sentencing Reform Act of 1984") instituted a classification system for criminal offenses punishable under the United States Code. Under this system, an offense with imprisonment terms of "six months or less but more than thirty days," such as that found in 29 U.S.C. 666(e) for a willful violation of the OSH Act, is classified as a criminal "Class B misdemeanor." 18 U.S.C. 3559(a)(7). The criminal code increases the monetary penalties for criminal misdemeanors beyond what is provided for in the OSH Act: a fine for a Class B misdemeanor resulting in death, for example, is not more than $250,000 for an individual, and is not more than $500,000 for an organization. 18 U.S.C. 3571(b)(4), (c)(4). The criminal code also provides for authorized terms of probation for both individuals and organizations. 18 U.S.C. 3551, 3561. The term of imprisonment for individuals is the same as that authorized by the OSH Act. 18 U.S.C. 3581(b)(7). On November 8, 1984, Pub. L. 98-620, 98 Stat. 3335, deleted the last sentence in section 11(a) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 660, that required petitions filed under the subsection to be heard expeditiously. On November 5, 1990, Pub. L. 101-508, 104 Stat. 1388, amended section 17 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 666, by increasing the penalties in section 17(a) from $10,000 for each violation to "$70,000 for each violation, but not less than $5,000 for each willful violation," and increased the limitation on penalties in sections (b), (c), (d), and (i) from $1,000 to $7,000. On October 26, 1992, Pub. L. 102-522, 106 Stat. 3410, 3420, added to Title 29, section 671a "Workers' Family Protection" to grant authority to the Director of NIOSH to evaluate, investigate and if necessary, for the Secretary of Labor to regulate employee transported releases of hazardous material that result from contamination on the employee's clothing or person and may adversely affect the health and safety of workers and their families. Note: section 671a was enacted as section 209 of the Fire Administration Authorization Act of 1992, but it is reprinted here because it is codified within the chapter that comprises the OSH Act. On October 28, 1992, the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992, Pub. L. 102-550, 106 Stat. 3672, 3924, amended section 22 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 671, by adding subsection (g), which requires NIOSH to institute a training grant program for lead-based paint activities. On July 5, 1994, section 7(b) of Pub. L. 103-272, 108 Stat. 745, repealed section 31 of the OSH Act, "Emergency Locator Beacons." Section 1(e) of the same Public Law, however, enacted a modified version of section 31 of the OSH Act. This provision, titled "Emergency Locator Transmitters," is codified at 49 U.S.C. 44712. On December 21, 1995, Section 3003 of Pub. L. 104-66, 109 Stat. 707, as amended, effective May 15, 2000, terminated the provisions relating to the transmittal to Congress of reports under section 26 of the OSH Act. 29 U.S.C. 675. On July 16, 1998, Pub. L. 105-197, 112 Stat. 638, amended section 21 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 670, by adding subsection (d), which required the Secretary to establish a compliance assistance program by which employers can consult with state personnel regarding the application of and compliance with OSHA standards. On July 16, 1998, Pub. L. 105-198, 112 Stat. 640, amended section 8 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 657, by adding subsection (h), which forbids the Secretary to use the results of enforcement activities to evaluate the employees involved in such enforcement or to impose quotas or goals. On September 28, 1998, Pub. L. 105-241, 112 Stat. 1572, amended sections 3(5) and 19(a) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. 652 and 668, to include the United States Postal Service as an "employer" subject to OSHA enforcement. On June 12, 2002, Pub. L. 107-188, Title I, Section 153, 116 Stat. 631, Congress enacted 29 U.S.C. 669a, to expand research on the "health and safety of workers who are at risk for bioterrorist threats or attacks in the workplace." Jurisdictional Note Although no corresponding amendments to the OSH Act have been made, OSHA no longer exercises jurisdiction over the entity formerly known as the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The Trust Territory, which consisted of the Former Japanese Mandated Islands, was established in 1947 by the Security Council of the United Nations, and administered by the United States. Trusteeship Agreement for the Former Japanese Mandated Islands, Apr. 2-July 18, 1947, 61 Stat. 3301, T.I.A.S. 1665, 8 U.N.T.S. 189. From 1947 to 1994, the people of these islands exercised the right of self-determination conveyed by the Trusteeship four times, resulting in the division of the Trust Territory into four separate entities. Three entities: the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, became "Freely Associated States," to which U.S. Federal Law does not apply. Since the OSH Act is a generally applicable law that applies to Guam, it applies to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, which elected to become a "Flag Territory" of the United States. See Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America, Article V, section 502(a) as contained in Pub. L. 94-24, 90 Stat. 263 (Mar. 24, 1976)[citations to amendments omitted]; 48 U.S.C. 1801 and note (1976); s ee also Saipan Stevedore Co., Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers'Compensation Programs, 133 F.3d 717, 722 (9th Cir. 1998)(Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act applies to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands pursuant to section 502(a) of the Covenant because the Act has general application to the states and to Guam). For up-to-date information on the legal status of these freely associated states and territories, contact the Office of Insular Affairs of the Department of the Interior. (Web address: http://www.doi.gov/oia/) Omitted Text. Reasons for textual deletions vary. Some deletions may result from amendments to the OSH Act; others to subsequent amendments to other statutes which the original provisions of the OSH Act may have amended in 1970. In some instances, the original provision of the OSH Act was date-limited and is no longer operative. The text of section 12(c), 29 U.S.C. 661, is omitted. Subsection (c) amended sections 5314 and 5315 of Title 5, United States Code, to add the positions of Chairman and members of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The text of section 27, 29 U.S.C. 676, is omitted. Section 27 listed Congressional findings on workers' compensation and established the National Commission on State Workmen's Compensation Laws, which ceased to exist ninety days after the submission of its final report, which was due no later than July 31, 1972. The text of section 28 (Economic Assistance to Small Business) amended sections 7(b) and section 4(c)(1) of the Small Business Act to allow for small business loans in order to comply with applicable standards. Because these amendments are no longer current, the text is omitted here. For the current version see 15 U.S.C. 636. The text of section 29, (Additional Assistant Secretary of Labor), created an Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, and section 30 (Additional Positions) created additional positions within the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in order to carry out the provisions of the OSH Act. The text of these sections is omitted here because it no longer reflects the current statutory provisions for staffing and pay. For current provisions, see 29 U.S.C. 553 and 5 U.S.C. 5108 (c). Section 31 of the original OSH Act amended 49 U.S.C. 1421 by inserting a section entitled "Emergency Locator Beacons." The text of that section is omitted in this reprint because Pub. L. 103-272, 108 Stat.745, (July 5, 1994), repealed the text of section 31 and enacted a modified version of the provision, entitled "Emergency Locator Transmitters," which is codified at 49 U.S.C. 44712. Notes on other legislation affecting the administration of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Sometimes legislation does not directly amend the OSH Act, but does place requirements on the Secretary of Labor either to act or to refrain from acting under the authority of the OSH Act. Included below are some examples of such legislation. Please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive list. STANDARDS PROMULGATION. For example, legislation may require the Secretary to promulgate specific standards pursuant to authority under section 6 of the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 655. Some examples include the following: Hazardous Waste Operations. Pub. L. 99-499, Title I, section 126(a)-(f), 100 Stat. 1613 (1986), as amended by Pub. L. 100-202, section 101(f), Title II, section 201, 101 Stat. 1329 (1987), required the Secretary of Labor to promulgate standards concerning hazardous waste operations. Chemical Process Safety Management. Pub. L. 101-549, Title III, section 304, 104 Stat. 2399 (1990), required the Secretary of Labor, in coordination with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to promulgate a chemical process safety standard. Hazardous Materials. Pub. L. 101-615, section 29, 104 Stat. 3244 (1990), required the Secretary of Labor, in consultation with the Secretaries of Transportation and Treasury, to issue specific standards concerning the handling of hazardous materials. Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. Pub. L. 102-170, Title I, section 100, 105 Stat. 1107 (1991), required the Secretary of Labor to promulgate a final Bloodborne Pathogens standard. Lead Standard. The Housing and Community Development Act of 1992, Pub. L. 102-550, Title X, sections 1031 and 1032, 106 Stat. 3672 (1992), required the Secretary of Labor to issue an interim final lead standard. EXTENSION OF COVERAGE. Sometimes a statute may make some OSH Act provisions applicable to certain entities that are not subject to those provisions by the terms of the OSH Act. For example, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, Pub. L. 104-1, 109 Stat. 3, (1995), extended certain OSH Act coverage, such as the duty to comply with Section 5 of the OSH Act, to the Legislative Branch. Among other provisions, this legislation authorizes the General Counsel of the Office of Compliance within the Legislative Branch to exercise the authority granted to the Secretary of Labor in the OSH Act to inspect places of employment and issue a citation or notice to correct the violation found. This statute does not make all the provisions of the OSH Act applicable to the Legislative Branch. Another example is the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, Title IX, Section 947, Pub. L. 108-173, 117 Stat. 2066 (2003), which requires public hospitals not otherwise subject to the OSH Act to comply with OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030. This statute provides for the imposition and collection of civil money penalties by the Department of Health and Human Services in the event that a hospital fails to comply with OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens standard. PROGRAM CHANGES ENACTED THROUGH APPROPRIATIONS LEGISLATION. Sometimes an appropriations statute may allow or restrict certain substantive actions by OSHA or the Secretary of Labor. For example, sometimes an appropriations statute may restrict the use of money appropriated to run the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or the Department of Labor. One example of such a restriction, that has been included in OSHA's appropriation for many years, limits the applicability of OSHA requirements with respect to farming operations that employ ten or fewer workers and do not maintain a temporary labor camp. Another example is a restriction that limits OSHA's authority to conduct certain enforcement activity with respect to employers of ten or fewer employees in low hazard industries. See Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004, Pub. L. 108-199, Div. E - Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations, 2004, Title I - Department of Labor, 118 Stat. 3 (2004). Sometimes an appropriations statute may allow OSHA to retain some money collected to use for occupational safety and health training or grants. For example, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004, Div. E, Title I, cited above, allows OSHA to retain up to $750,000 of training institute course tuition fees per fiscal year for such uses. For the statutory text of currently applicable appropriations provisions, consult the OSHA appropriations statute for the fiscal year in question.