The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) is inviting public comment on a proposal to create an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program at the agency’s case review level. The OSHRC is an independent federal agency that functions as a two-tiered administrative court to provide administrative trial and appellate review of contested citations or penalties resulting from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections. At the trial level before an administrative law judge (ALJ), the OSHRC conducts hearings, receives evidence, and issues decision on the contested OSHA actions. At the review level, the OSHRC commissioners hear appeals of ALJ decisions.

The OSHRC currently has an ADR program – known as the Settlement Part program – in place at the trial level. Under this program, which contains both voluntary and mandatory procedures, an ALJ serves as a settlement judge and oversees the ADR process. If a case fails to settle, an ALJ not involved in the settlement process adjudicates the matter and issues a decision. This decision may be appealed to the OSHRC commissioners at the review level.

The agency is exploring the idea of instituting a separate ADR program for the secondary review level. To this end, the OSHRC’s request for comments seeks input on a series of questions, ranging from whether such a program should be developed in the first instance, to how such a program should be structured.

Written comments must be identified by the title “Settlement Part Public Comment,” and received within 60 days of the request for comment’s publication in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for August 22, 2013. Comments may be sent by mail or hand delivery to John X. Cerveny, Deputy Executive Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, 1120 20th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036-3457, by fax to 202-606-5050, or by e-mail to fedreg@oshrc.gov.