The new administration has ended what critics called a campaign of public shaming.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has, since its creation, worked aggressively to make the work place safer for American workers. Critics, and there are many especially in the construction industry, have long argued that OSHA has pursued its mandate too aggressively.
Companies that are found guilty of safety violations are fined. There transgressions are also published in weekly press releases because the threat of negative publicity for companies featured in the press releases has proved to be an effective, and inexpensive, way to “shame” companies into compliance with OSHA requirements.
Under the administration of President Trump, these publications have stopped.
Scott Van Voorhis, in an article in ENR.com discusses the changes at OHSA since Mr. Trump took office. “OSHA’s sudden public silence comes amid an overall media blackout imposed by the Trump Administration on federal agencies across the board.”
According to Mr. Van Voohis, the “U.S. OSHA online press site, which typically featured as many as a dozen or more announcements per week, issued its last press release dated as of Jan. 19.”
Leaders of the construction industry have long argued that these public announcements unfairly stigmatize companies for minor safety violations.
Mr. Van Voorhis believes that “one of [OSHA’s] more aggressive regulatory initiatives—the Severe Violators Enforcement Program—also faces an uncertain future with the arrival of a more business-friendly Trump Administration.”
This program publishes a list of companies OSHA has identified as severe violators with “multiple and repeated violations” of federal safety regulations.
Critics contend that companies identified as severe violators find it difficult to remove their names from OSHA’s list even if they take the remedial steps dictated by OSHA.
This recalibration of the power of OSHA is long overdue. No reasonable person in the construction agency wants to eliminate policies that genuinely protect workers. But OSHA has created a “bureaucratic morass” that can unreasonably stifle the ability of companies who have remedied their safety practices to have their names removed from damning press releases and the Severe Violators list.
Stream of U.S. OSHA Penalty Press Release Dries Up, Scott Van Voorhis, ENR.com, Feb. 8, 2017.