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OSHA Update

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Trump administration took office on January 20, 2017. As of June 28, 2017 the administration has yet to appoint a new head of OSHA. The agency has yet to publish its regulatory agenda or comment on its approach to enforcement. 

Agencies often emulate the “tone” of the administration they serve, but without agency leadership, OSHA is responding to immediate needs and situations without providing any signals of where they may be headed. This places the regulated community squarely in uncertain times. 

OSHA officials, during the end of President Obama’s administration issued a number of complex and controversial health and safety regulations in 2016. Candidate Trump made it clear that he was opposed to regulations that make it difficult on American businesses and employers to compete. One action the agency was immediately directed to take was to discontinue its practice of publicly shaming employers following inspections where citations were issued. 

Regulations published after around May 31, 2016 can be withdrawn using the Congressional Review Act. The last time these powers were used was in 2001 when a very complicated ergonomics standard issued at the end of President Clinton’s second term was eliminated. The Trump administration was successful in eliminating many regulations falling into this window of time, but several significant OSHA regulations were issued prior to the cutoff date and are currently in a “state of limbo”. 

Further complicating the regulatory climate, many lawsuits have been filed in federal court objecting to OSHA’s Silica in Construction and Electronic Recordkeeping standards. It is unknown when these cases may be heard or what the outcomes may be. 

The uncertainty surrounding the agency’s direction makes it difficult for us to provide precise insight and guidance. However, it is always good advice to make a good faith effort to comply. We are advising our construction clients to make preparations to comply with the silica in construction standard. Reducing employee exposure to concentrations of silica containing dusts is just good business and may protect from silica related disease claims. 

The Horton Group’s safety consulting division is closely monitoring developments with OSHA and will keep you updated as additional information becomes available. Please contact your Horton representative if you have any questions. 

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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