By HEATHER CARTER
Arizona’s recently introduced Health and Safety Audit Privilege bill (HB 2485) is a victory for Arizona’s workers and Arizona businesses. Drafted with lessons learned from other states that have passed similar laws, this legislation would encourage businesses to discover and correct health and safety problems by giving them protection that is fair and just, while maintaining Arizona’s commitment to making workplaces and other facilities healthful and safe.
This bill would incentivize businesses to perform their own audits, discover potential health and safety issues, and attempt to correct them without fear of over-reaching regulatory agencies imposing unjust sanctions against them for their proactive action. The bill would not allow businesses to get away with maintaining unhealthful or unsafe workplaces that pose risks to employees and the public. Nor would it grant any immunity for health or safety law violations. The bill maintains the importance of state regulatory enforcement provisions and permitting requirements, and cannot circumvent the protections provided by federal and state laws.
The Health and Safety Audit Privilege bill would bring a common-sense approach to the regulatory process by giving businesses the opportunity to self-audit and correct health and safety conditions without fear of harsh penalties. It would give them the “privilege” of keeping their discoveries confidential, as long as they remedy any potential health or safety problems. We need to encourage job creators to make sure they have the tools they need to identify safety concerns, and allow them the opportunity to fix any problems without fear of punishment. Businesses should not be punished for doing the right thing.
This innovative legislation is patterned after similar laws passed in Texas, which, according to CNBC, is America’s top state for business. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce support the bill.
The results of this bill, should it become law, would ensure faster identification of health and safety problems and even quicker solutions. It would also provide a better business climate for Arizona, which translates into more jobs. As businesses leave overly regulatory burdensome states (think of our neighbors to the west), the Arizona business climate will become that much more attractive to them through the passage of this legislation. I encourage all Arizonans who want to see our economy grow, to give Arizona businesses the same tools other pro-job-creation states, like Texas, already have.
Together we can grow this economy, protect employee safety, and do it without fear of litigious reprisal. Please urge your legislator to support this bill.
Representative Heather Carter serves in the Legislature representing north Phoenix, Cave Creek, Carefree and Scottsdale. Currently, Representative Carter is the chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee and a member of the Education Committee. She focuses on legislative issues related to economic recovery for Arizona, including taxpayer protection issues, health-care concerns and educational reform.