Members of a key Congressional committee recently made clear that it is looking to nudge the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) into a more cooperative direction. Some industry leaders have observed that, under the Trump administration, OSHA has begun to do just that.
Last Tuesday, the Workforce Protection Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Workforce held a hearing titled “A More Effective and Collaborative OSHA: A View from Stakeholders.” Subcommittee Chairman Bradley Byrne (R-AL), a former labor attorney, opened the hearing by noting that “employers are continuously struggling to comply with the ever-changing standards and new regulations released by OSHA every year.” Chairman Byrne recalled visiting a Cintas worksite in Mobile, Alabama as it celebrated its certification as a Star site under OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program, and he applauded workers who make workplace safety a priority. Recalling fatal incidents at workplaces, Ranking Member Mark Takano (D-CA) urged enhanced criminal sanctions for criminal willful citations, increased enforcement resources and a return to Obama-era rulemakings stalled by the Trump Administration.
Committee members heard testimony from representatives of the Tree Care Industry Association, the National Association of Home Builders and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as Dr. David Michaels, who led OSHA as an Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Obama administration. Witnesses offered ideas such as a national, uniform tree trimming standard, simpler online guidance for small businesses, and deeper involvement of industry stakeholders in rulemakings.
If you want to read the tea leaves on upcoming moves, take note that the Chairwoman of the Education and Workforce Committee, Virginia Foxx (R-NC), emphasized small businesses’ challenges in keeping pace with OSHA regulations and a uniform tree trimming standard. Stay tuned.
For a resource on potential changes OSHA may consider for State Plan states, see OSHA Enforcement of the “As Effective As” Standard for State Plans: Serving Process or People?, 46 U. Rich. L. Rev. 323, 345 (2011).