As President Trump noted in his swearing in speech WE WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT!, but what about the Commander in Chiefs past with the OSHA police! Trump’s limited-regulation stance, coupled with his experience in construction and other industries, suggest to some that he will steer OSHA more toward compliance assistance and away from enforcement.
Your Commander in Chief offers the unprecedented case of an incoming commander-in-chief who has been fined multiple times by OSHA for safety violations at his work sites. His businesses also have relied on contractors and subcontractors who have been hit with major penalties. One of his contractors was fined $104,000 after a construction worker fell 42 stories to his death in 2008 at the Trump SoHo hotel condominium in New York City. The penalty was later reduced to $44,000.
Expert predict but not withstanding that:
- Labor-law experts predict that OSHA will move away from an enforcement-based strategy and toward compliance assistance and cooperative programs for employers.
- OSHA’s funding could decrease, and the way it spends its funds also could change if Trump limits the agency’s enforcement budget.
- Recent regulations such as the injury and illness recordkeeping rule, the silica rule and the so-called “blacklisting rule” all could be in jeopardy under the Trump administration.
OSHA could issue new guidance documents or letters of interpretation that reopen the door for drug testing and safety incentive programs, for example. Or the administration could pursue a budget rider that says OSHA shall not spend any funds on implementing the electronic recordkeeping database or in collecting or reviewing employers’ injury and illness data submitted pursuant to the rule – effectively invalidating its existence. Depending on the timing, some rules could be changed under the Congressional Review Act.
Remember your commander in chief noted in pre-election win that, less regulation is certainly something Trump campaigned on, and OSHA presents an area with a great deal of regulation.” Trump administration could appoint new OSHA leadership with officials who are less enforcement-minded. In addition, these new appointments could advocate for the adoption of less stringent regulations, and could direct their focus on compliance assistance as opposed to enforcement and litigation. The Obama administration’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), launched in 2010, currently concentrates “OSHA’s resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by committing willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.” Pursuant to the SVEP, enforcement actions for severe violator cases include, among other things, mandatory follow-up inspections, corporate-wide agreements (where appropriate), and enhanced settlement provisions. Given President Trump’s repeated campaign promises to decrease regulation and create a “business-friendly” atmosphere, OSHA may not prioritize follow-up inspections, and could impose lower fines or less severe penalties upon employers that violate the Act.