OSHA Under Biden
Whenever a new President of the United States is elected, there is often a “changing of the guard” when it comes to government leadership, and that includes OSHA. This change always results in different philosophies and approaches, but when the new administration is from a different political party the amount of change is usually amplified. With this in mind, we are likely to see a very different OSHA once the Biden administration takes over. Just how different will it be? In my opinion, it will be radically different.
Under the Trump Administration the government (as a whole) was encouraged to avoid generating new regulations as much as possible. In fact, President Trump’s marching orders were to, “Delete two regulations for each new regulation created.” Because of this it has been a quiet 4-years for OSHA. Instead of focusing on regulatory change and enforcement, they were focused on clarifying existing regulations and building partnerships through the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). They were also very cautious about adding any additional recordkeeping requirements and tried to minimize “public shaming” of employers who received large penalties.
When considering the typical philosophies of the Democratic Party, remembering the approach of the Obama Administration, and taking campaign comments into consideration… we are likely to see a drastic change. Here are some of the changes we are likely to see:
- REGULATORY CHANGE: We will experience more regulatory change. One of the first new regulations likely to be implemented will be centered around Covid-19 (and/or pandemics in general). There may also be new regulations for serious hazards that do not have specific regulations, like Heat Stress and Workplace Violence. It wouldn’t be surprising for OSHA to attempt (once again) to prohibit safety incentive programs that could discourage injury reporting. These are a few of several foreseen changes.
- ENFORCEMENT: There will be a higher emphasis put on enforcement and less put on forming partnerships. There will be more inspections, more citations, higher penalty amounts, and probably more “Willful” violations issued. OSHA may look for more opportunities to use the “Multi-Employer Citation”. The Trump administration’s attempt to minimize public shaming (of employers who receive hefty fines) will likely disappear as well.
Only time will tell the specifics, but the overall approach of implementing new regulations and increasing enforcement seems almost certain.
Kevin Beswick, President of RMS Safety