Two weeks into President George W. Bush’s tenure is of course too early to tell what changes safety and health professionals can expect from OSHA, but here are few predictions based on conversations with Washington sources:

  • Look for the impact of the ergo rule to be diminished, either by a court decision, changes to some requirements, or through directions to inspectors regarding how to enforce the rule.

  • Don’t expect any new standards for several years. A relatively simple rule like the proposal calling for employers to pay for most types of PPE might slip through, but big efforts like general requirements for setting up safety and health programs will move very slowly.

  • OSHA’s Web site, which averages 1.4 million visitors a month, will be a highly-publicized tool for compliance assistance efforts. Look for more training programs and interactive “expert advisers” on the site.

  • OSHA field offices will continue to be pushed by Washington to develop partnership programs with local industries aimed at reducing specific safety and health problems. More than 100 cooperative ventures have already been set up.

  • Training and education requirements for agency personnel will be studied and possibly tightened.

  • Look for OSHA to sponsor “best practices” conferences or forums to highlight safety success stories from industry. President Bush calls it “market-based innovation”.

  • Bush also says he’s “results-oriented.” You can expect OSHA leaders to sound like business execs when they talk about being held accountable for goals, priorities, and strategic plans.