As Trump Administration Pursues Deregulation, OSHA Continues Enforcement Actions

According to the White House, federal agencies have withdrawn, made inactive, or delayed 1,579 planned regulatory actions since President Trump took office. While almost a third of these deregulatory actions were begun under prior Presidents and some will have little impact on businesses, the President and Congress has succeeded in undoing some major rules.

The Administration’s deregulation agenda, however, has not slowed down the enforcement actions of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). In 2017, OSHA conducted 32,396 inspections compared with 31,948 in fiscal year 2016. In addition, the average penalty per serious violation rose to $3,645 per violation in fiscal year 2017 compared with $3,415 during the previous year.

The fact that the Trump Administration does not yet have their leaders in place may not explain continued enforcement. While the Administration may impact some enforcement actions, there has been little change in significant enforcement in the past, regardless of which administration controls the White House. Moreover, President Trump’s nominee to head OSHA, Scott Mugno, publicly committed to pursue criminal penalties against employers that endanger employees’ lives. It is also important to note that the Department of Labor has not issued any notice to rescind existing OSHA regulations. While it is anticipated that the Trump Administration may seek changes to OSHA’s current electronic record-keeping rule, the language of the Occupational Safety and Health Act does not appear to allow revocation of workplace safety regulations for economic growth reasons.

Accordingly, all employers should remain diligent in compliance with OHSA regulations, including the requirement to electronically submit injury and illness data. The electronic filing requirement applies to construction injuries if the dealer or contractor has 20 or more employees and to all injuries of the company has 250 or more employees.

For some guidance on what should a flooring dealer or contractor do if OSHA comes knocking on their door, see the article entitled “Government Inspectors Are at The Door:  Now What Do You Do?” in WFCA’s Premier Flooring Retailer (November/December 2014).

Notice: The information contained in this article is abridged from legislation, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018