A panel discussion Monday morning offered some insight into the first 17 months of OSHA under the Trump administration. Some questions that arose include: How has the mission or strategy of the Agency changed? How might these changes at the Agency affect worker safety and health? What do we expect based on the regulatory agendas? How has enforcement been affected?
The speakers were: Jordan Barab, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA; Peg Seminario, AFL-CIO; and Mark Ames, of AIHA.
Jordan Barab said the budget for OSHA has decreased, but the budget for NIOSH has decreased by more than $100,000. Some of the notable changes: Some topics have been taken off the regulatory agenda, such as combustible dust and backover injuries, and others have been delayed or weakened, such as silica, said Barab.
Seminario said this is “the worse shape OSHA has ever been in regards to staffing,”
Seminario’s presentation gave a brief summary of what has been going on with OSHA under Trump’s administration. She said overall inspection activity has been unchanged, but there has been a decline in inspections for more complicated cases and hazards. There are fewer serious, willful and repeat citations. There has been a decline in significant cases. OSHA staffing and funding is at the lowest level in decades. OSHA’s capacity to provide meaningful oversight is stretched to the limit due to the low staffing and funding. There are few and declining resources devoted to growing sectors of the economy where fatalities are increasing. Without commitment to enforcement and additional resources, OSHA will be unable to ensure the safety and health of workers, Seminario said.
Ames stressed the importance of “the power to change,” encouraging professionals to work on change if they don’t like how things are going.