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OSHA is likely to look very different under the Trump or Biden administration



Just as national news networks continue to speculate who will win this year's presidential election, employers and health and safety experts are assuming what the US health and safety administration would look like under a Joe Biden government or another four years under President Donald Trump.

Before President Trump took over from President Barack Obama in January 2017, OSHA had introduced several comprehensive record-breaking reforms and issued a flood of guidance. Under the Trump administration, these extended registry obligations were rolled back, and provisions were made for the issuance of guidance in favor of relying on rules as a basis for enforcing occupational safety rules.

During a continued Trump administration, that "heavy deregulation" is likely to continue, as well as restrictions on the issuance of new guidance and the required revocation of existing regulatory guidelines for each new piece issued, says Eric Conn, Washington-based founder by Conn Maciel Carey LLP "OSHA to issue a temporary emergency for COVID-1

9 workplace protection is also likely to continue during a second Trump era," Kate McMahon, Washington-based partner at Conn Maciel, said in a webinar on Oct. 22. Several states, including Virginia and Michigan, have issued their own standards and Oregon and California are completing temporary COVID-19 standards for employers.

A Biden administration is likely to make OSHA's issuance of a temporary standard for coronavirus a top priority, he said. Mr Biden has publicly stated that a temporary COVID-19 emergency standard is needed and that OSHA should double the number of investigators to enforce existing standards and guidelines. by OSHA of COVID-19 filing and reporting, as well as additional resources for investigating COVID-19 whistleblower retaliation complaints.

OSHA has been criticized for reducing inspectors – 761 inspectors now cover the country, down from 815 in 2016 – the agency received a significant budget increase in 2019 under the Trump administration, McMahon said.

Under a Biden administration, the number of OSHA inspectors is likely to increase significantly, along with pressure for more rules, said Todd Logsdon, Louisville, Kentucky-based partner at Fisher Phillips LLP.

Mr. Logsdon also said he would expect a return to what he called the agency's Obama-era "press shaming" strategy.

"I do not think many employers thought it was fair – shameful press releases about the quote before the employer even had a chance to compete, sometimes before they even got the quote," he said.

Employers, who generally like continuity, will also have few rules or guidelines released during a second Trump period unless there is a "good safety case," he said.

One change that many workplace stakeholders would welcome is the confirmation of a Deputy Secretary of State for the Work Environment – a position that has been vacant throughout the Trump presidency.Although the administration nominated Scott Mugno, a FedEx Corp. security chief, for the role in 2017, he withdrew his name from considerations in 2019.

"One of the things we would like to see happen that has not happened is an administrator appointed to OSHA," said Pam Walaski, Pittsburgh-based board member of the American Society of Safety Professionals and senior program director at Specialty Technical Consultants Inc. I do not think a federal agency for that magnitude should have gone that far without a formal leader in place. ”

Despite the lack of a Senate-confirmed OSHA leader, however, Walaski said the agency has shown increased interest over the past four years in voluntary consensus standards, which she said is a priority for ASSP. These voluntary standards are created by security organizations to reflect current best practices and address gaps in legislation and are intended to complement OSHA standards, which due to the regulatory process can take years to develop and

Overall, "It does not matter which party happens to be in office or the composition of the congressional leadership," said Mark Ames, head of government relations at Falls Church, Virginia-based American Industrial Hygiene. Association. "What matters much more is the relationships you develop … with the leadership of these entities."

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