OSHA's Fall Regulatory Agenda: Worker Protections Not a Priority

by Katie Tracy

October 22, 2018

The Trump administration has few plans to protect workers from emerging workplace health and safety hazards, according to the regulatory agenda released by the White House on October 16. This is nothing new for this administration, which has consistently neglected to take up worker protections, instead focusing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) resources on delaying and rolling back existing safeguards

Among the rules in OSHA's crosshairs, the agency plans to revoke a requirement for employers with 250 or more employees to electronically submit detailed logs of injuries and illnesses that occur at their establishments. The electronic reporting requirement for large firms is one piece of a 2016 rule finalized just before President Obama's term ended. The 2016 rule only sought to require establishments to submit injury and illness records that employers are already required to keep on site. But Trump's OSHA is basing its rollback on a bogus claim about employee privacy that, as we've explained in a prior post and in comments on the final rule, is completely unfounded. 

OSHA's fall agenda shows it will move ahead with plans to revoke ancillary requirements for the construction and maritime industries from the agency's standard designed to limit worker exposure to toxic beryllium. OSHA is also planning to issue a proposed rule by December to revise provisions of the beryllium standard applicable to general industry, per a settlement agreement OSHA and industry reached this summer. 

The good news is minimal. OSHA is planning to complete a small business review panel it initiated over the summer to consider regulatory approaches the agency ought to take to address the higher-than-average fatality rate among workers in the communication tower industry. Under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), OSHA must complete such a panel before it can move forward with a proposed rule that could have a significant effect on a substantial number of small businesses. However, beyond completing the panel (which has already concluded), OSHA lists no next steps. The agency is also moving ahead with initiating another small business review panel on a draft rule to address significant hazards to emergency response workers, which is set to begin this month. These two actions are welcomed, but at the slow rate OSHA is addressing hazards, it will be many more years before adequate ...

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