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One Lafayette Centre, 1120 20th Street, NW, 9th Floor,
Washington, D.C. 20036-3419


The independent Federal agency that issues decisions in work place safety disputes
will receive Vice President Albert Gore's Hammer Award for "simplifying and expediting"
its decision-making by implementing a process called E-Z Trial. Pat Wood, a
representative of the Vice President's National Partnership for Reinventing Government
(NPR) will present the award at 10:30 a.m., November 17, 1998, at the agency's
Washington, DC headquarters, 1120 20th St., N.W. NPR is the initiative lead by Vice
President Gore to improve government service and efficiency. The Hammer Award
recognizes Federal agencies whose work results in a government that works better and
costs less.

The Review Commission, created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970,
resolves disputes that start when an employer or group of employees or their union
disagrees with some portion of a job safety or health citation issued by inspectors from
another Federal agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 
Each such case is assigned to one of the Review Commission's Administrative Law
Judges (ALJ). Before E-Z Trial, many employers or employees did not get "their day in
court" because they were confused by the legal process or technical legal rules or
discouraged by the cost of hiring an attorney. With E-Z Trial, contesting a citation
became simpler, quicker and less costly, especially for small employers and those
appearing without attorneys.

The new process eliminates pleadings, discourages discovery and requires the
disclosure to employers of certain useful information concerning the inspection and
citation, without compromising due process. In addition, complex federal rules of
evidence, which can confound many non-lawyers, do not apply in E-Z Trial
proceedings and post-hearing briefs are discouraged in favor of oral arguments at the
hearing. In 1998, roughly 25 per cent of OSHRC's cases were E-Z Trials. Cycle times
for E-Z Trials were reduced by nearly 60 per cent compared to similar cases heard
under the conventional trial process. Employers receive a step-by-step plain english
guide to E-Z Trial and an explanatory videotape.

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