A Donald Trump presidency isn’t going to spell the end of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration altogether, but it’s likely to mean less enforcement and little rulemaking.
That’s the consensus we hear in response to concerns that the incoming administration might like to wipe out OSHA altogether.
The bottom line on this: It’s not going to happen.
Instead, we expect to that OSHA’s emphasis during the Obama administration on whistleblower and anti-retaliation claims will not be given the same focus under the Trump administration. Rather, we anticipate OSHA returning to more business-friendly and cooperative compliance programs over time.
Trump, of course, has spoken repeatedly about his plans to eliminate federal agencies. But a president can’t unilaterally wipe out an agency or department that, like OSHA, was created by statute.
Rather, Congress and the president would have to enact a law to eliminate such an agency. And that’s unlikely, because any opposition could and would no doubt mount a filibuster.
Besides, Trump isn’t likely to want to kill OSHA for a very good business reason: health and safety rules keep injuries down and insurance premiums under control.
In the last year of the Obama administration, OSHA enacted two controversial regulations: silica and electronic reporting of injuries.
Congress won’t be able to overturn them using the Congressional Review Act because time will have run out. The CRA requires Congress to act within 60 legislative days of when regulations are issued.
To change or throw out these regulations, it would be necessary to go through the same rulemaking process that was used to create them in the first place, a process that takes years.
So, what’s the most likely scenario ahead?
OSHA’s mandate under Trump could be to simply review existing regulations, not put in any new ones, and perhaps work on those things that business might want.
Trump also could use OSHA inspections to flag immigrants living illegally in the United States at construction sites and other workplaces.
Just whom Trump might appoint to head OSHA is still unknown, although speculation has it that he’s likely to name perhaps the head of safety at a large corporation or an industry lawyer.