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Where does OSHA stand under the new presidential administration?

February 8th, 2017 by Dakota Software Staff Industry News

Where does OSHA stand under the new presidential administration?

The first few weeks of President Donald Trump's term have come along with a flurry of activity related to many different federal agencies and departments. The changes have been significant in many cases. A bar on certain agencies, like the EPA, engaging in most forms of mass communication with the public is a prime example, although a short-term block such as this is common during the first days of a new administration.

There are some potential major changes for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is of special interest to EHS professionals, although exactly what they are is unclear.

OSHA changes and developments
As part of the Department of Labor, OSHA will have a new secretary-level supervisor. Trump's pick for the position, Andrew Pudzer, is known for his longtime role as CEO of related fast food chains Hardee's and Carl's Jr. As USA Today reported, the confirmation hearings for Pudzer have been delayed four times in total. His appointment isn't totally assured, although it is likely. While Pudzer - or whoever is eventually chosen for the position - is a major cog in the machine for the DOL, there's another vacant and vitally important unfilled position specifically for OSHA: assistant secretary of labor.

Former Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels followed through on a commitment to leave his position in early 2017, but there's not yet a clear nominee for a new permanent leader of OSHA. Safety.BLR spoke with acting OSHA lead administrator Jordan Barab, who said he hasn't seen any indication of permanent pick for the role. Barab said he hopes OSHA continues the balanced approach to compliance assistance and enforcement that Michaels used, and noted that despite political affiliation, everyone wants workers to be safe while on the job.

In terms of health and safety regulations, a general regulatory freeze ordered by Trump and an executive order that requires two existing regulations to be repealed for every new one enacted means a drastically different approach to rulemaking than under the Obama administration. It's hard to say what the long-term reactions to this limitation will be for OSHA and similar agencies and departments, but a reduction in new regulations is very likely. Ultimately, the federal regulator will be in a state of flux to some degree until a permanent secretary of labor and assistant secretary of labor are selected and on the job.

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