Is OSHA’s Decision to Stop Publicizing Fines a Hint at Deregulation to Come?

Is OSHA’s Decision to Stop Publicizing Fines a Hint at Deregulation to Come?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is one of many US federal agencies whose regulatory agenda is expected to shrink considerably under the Trump administration, after having introduced new rules and stepped up enforcement activities during the Obama administration. Now, Barry Meier and Danielle Ivory write in a New York Times feature, OSHA is still actively enforcing safety regulations, but the Labor Department has stopped publicizing the fines the administration issues to violators since President Donald Trump took office in January. Advocates of stronger workplace safety regulations see this is a step toward loosening OSHA regulations, or loosening their enforcement:

“The reason you do news releases is to influence other employers” to clean up their acts, said David Michaels, who was an administrator of [OSHA] during much of the Obama administration.

As Mr. Trump vows to roll back regulations across the federal government, the early experience in the Labor Department shows that there are many ways to signal the administration’s new direction. Concern among labor unions and advocates of workplace safety is so high that some unions raced to court last month to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to undo a new rule that prevents companies from retaliating against employees who report workplace hazards.

Shortly after Trump’s election last November, Angelica L. Boutwell and Larry S. Perlman took a look at some of the policy areas in which Trump was likely to make the most changes at Labor and Employment Law Perspectives and noted that in terms of OSHA, employers could expect a more collaborative style of enforcement, while the administration could also loosen illness and injury reporting requirements, and pursue softer penalties for violators.