Fate of certain OSHA regulations remains uncertain under new administration

Jan 31 2017

Whenever a new administration takes control of the White House, questions inevitably swirl around who will be selected to head certain high-profile agencies and what changes in direction are ahead for the next four years. Indeed, stories about the potential leadership and planned course of action for federal agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency never fail to generate considerable headlines.

For the rest of the agencies, however, the public excitement is far less, and nascent administrations have historically made them less of a priority during their first 100 days. Interestingly enough, however, legal experts indicate that this longstanding trend might shift during the Trump administration, at least as to how it relates to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Specifically, many are theorizing that President Trump’s experience with the agency owing to his construction background coupled with his decidedly limited-regulation and pro-business stance might mean he takes faster action regarding OSHA than his predecessors, rapidly shifting the agency’s focus from enforcement and more toward compliance assistance.

This naturally raises questions, however, as to the potential fate of some of the more recent and controversial OSHA regulations:

  • Injury and illness electronic record keeping: This rule, which requires employers to electronically submit their illness and injury data to OSHA, which may elect to republish it on the agency website, and bans employers from retaliating against workers for reporting, has proven contentious since its introduction. Given that many employers have called the regulation unnecessary and onerous, with eight industry groups even attempting legal action, experts indicate it’s highly possible both the electronic submission requirements and anti-retaliation protections could be curbed to some degree.
  • Silica exposure: Published in March 2016, and scheduled to take effect in the construction sector in June and rolled out to general industry in 2018, this rule drops permissible exposure limits for breathable crystalline silica during 8-hour shifts to 50 micrograms per cubic meter. While still set to take effect, experts indicate it could be rolled back in the months ahead.
  • Blacklisting: Published in August 2016, this rule mandates that any firm wanting to do business with the federal government must disclose any prior labor law violations. Experts indicate that, this too, could be rolled back in the months ahead.

Experts also appear to be united in their belief, however, that OSHA’s commitment to work safety as a whole should remain largely unchanged in the next four years.

“Worker safety regulations as a general matter are not likely to disappear — OSHA and its regulations have been around for a long time and have survived administration changes,” said one employment law attorney.”

Stay tuned for updates …

If you’ve been seriously injured in a workplace accident and saw your claim for workers’ compensation benefits denied, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options.