Oakland, CA – California Attorney General Rob Bonta recently announced he had joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in an amicus brief pushing back on a cynical attempt to drastically undermine the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) ability to establish and enforce federal workplace safety protections. While amici states play a significant role in ensuring the safety of workers, OSHA is a vital partner in protecting health and safety in the workplace nationwide. In the friend-of-the-court brief, Attorney General Bonta reiterates the critical importance of OSHA’s workplace standards for millions of people across the country and urges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to reject the current attempt to unwind more than half a century of legal precedent.
“From factory fires to construction accidents, our modern workplace safety laws are built on the experience of decades of preventable tragedies,” said Attorney General Bonta. “This current attempt to throw out OSHA’s safety standards puts lives at risk. It’s shameful. At the California Department of Justice, we’ll always fight to support workers and protect against dangerous conditions on the job.”
In 2021, an Ohio-based general contracting company filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio challenging OSHA’s authority to promulgate occupational safety or health standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The company erroneously argued that the OSH Act exceeds the limits of congressional authority to delegate regulatory power to executive agencies, threatening to directly undermine workplace protections across a wide range of industries nationwide. In 2022, the district court rejected the company’s claims and reiterated that appellate courts had consistently ruled in favor of OSHA’s ability to establish standards that are reasonably necessary or appropriate for the implementation of the OSH Act. These standards have protected workers in a range of industries throughout the United States for over 50 years and were put in place to address widespread workplace hazards. In the 25 years leading up to the passage of the OSH Act, more than 400,000 Americans were killed by work-related accidents and diseases and close to 50 million more suffered disabling injuries on the job. The OSH Act revolutionized how businesses and employers approach workplace safety and health — and the current challenge to the law directly endangers worker safety protections.
In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts:
- OSHA’s permanent safety standards ensure workplace safety throughout the United States and are critical to state efforts to protect workers;
- OSHA’s authority to promulgate permanent safety standards does not violate the nondelegation doctrine;
- The appellate court should affirm the district court’s decision upholding OSHA’s longstanding authority to protect worker health and safety.
In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of Illinois, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.
A copy of the amicus brief is available here (PDF).
Source: CA AG’s Office