In the final days and weeks of the Obama Administration, OSHA promulgated several significant regulatory changes. For example, after several decades, it finally completed its update to the Walking Working Surfaces Standard (the regulation covering slips, trips and falls). It also published a controversial Electronic Injury Data Submission Rule, extended the statute of limitations for recordkeeping violations, added two new occupational health exposure standards for silica and beryllium, and brought the U.S. Hazard Communication Standard (the chemical right-to-know regulation) more in line with the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. To name a few.
But, as a new administration took the reigns at the Department of Labor, many wondered what would be the fate of these “midnight rules”? While some Obama-era OSHA regulations have been subject to additional rulemaking (or even rule-rescinding), as expected given Pres. Trump’s promises for deregulation, most have remained untouched. Indeed, when Scott Mugno, President Trump’s nominee for OSHA’s top job, recently announced his decision that he was withdrawing his name from consideration, the likelihood that OSHA would remain without a permanent, appointed leader for the entirety of President Trump’s term has increased dramatically, and conversely, without a captain steering the ship, the likelihood of OSHA carrying out the Trump Administration’s plan for major de-regulatory action has dramatically decreased.
Much more likely, OSHA will continue to operate over the course of the next year and a half of the Trump Administration as it has since shortly after his Inauguration – modest de-regulatory efforts to nibble around the edges of Obama-era regulations, but nothing close to the level of radical deregulation that had been advertised on the campaign trail and which we have seen at other agencies. Thus, the “midnight” regulations promulgated at the tail end of the Obama Administration appear likely to remain largely intact. Continue reading