My name is Dr. Kevin Trangle and today I’m talking about a timely topic related to Occupational Health and Safety. There is a supposition that with a Republican in office, particularly with President Trump who is so averse to regulations and rules, that not only the EPA will decrease regulations and enforcement, but also the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may likewise follow its sister agency. This remains to be seen. As a business owner, President Trump has had lawsuits filed against his companies. When OSHA cites an organization for safety violations, both for willful negligence or otherwise, typically the company employs legal representation to decrease, minimize or eliminate the penalties.
The Trump SoHo hotel in 2008 had a construction crew member fall 42 stories to his death. The fine was reduced from $104,000 to $44,000 after litigation. This is not unusual.
The concern is that with time, rule making will decrease, enforcement will lessen, record keeping will not be as rigorously enforced and, in general, safety would be de-emphasized. This remains to be seen.
Pushing regulations, whether tightening or lessening, down to the level of the actual workforce takes time. It is highly unlikely that safety regulations will in any way be relaxed at the operative level within the next 2 years. What is more likely is some of the rule making in terms of silica, organic solvents and other exposure potentials will be less hastened on the track to approval and to implementation; levels requiring action will be not be reduced.
Companies will still need to keep in mind that even as enforcement may wane over the next few years, the legal system, intentional torte, and similar other medicolegal theories will continue to be problematic for companies that do not adhere to safety-best practices.
Furthermore, the agency is expected to shift to more of a compliance-based strategy. This will mean that such programs as the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) will become more in focus with the agency. This is a program where companies can basically have best practices and enhancement programs and voluntarily undergo an audit by OSHA. Having done this with companies in the past, passing such an audit allows the organization to go through several years without any concerns for audit unless a specific egregious violation occurs.
It is anticipated that a more business-friendly, compliance-oriented and motivational methodology will expected to take root. As an added benefit to a voluntarily compliance or a VPP type of program, it is often quite possible to reduce liability insurance and other types of insurance for the organization by adopting this approach toward safety.
There are still opportunities for companies to save money, become safe, and maintain its desire to be a coveted place to be employed. Although, under Trump, confrontational enforcement may decrease, and likely will, the opportunity to save insurance costs and work with OSHA in terms of VPP type of programs will undoubtedly be more prevalent. Contact our offices today to learn more about how changes may affect your organization and how to prepare.