A new secretary of the Labor Department hasn’t been confirmed, yet worker safety rules may already be on the chopping block. The Obama administration was implementing the use of public shaming to ensure companies were following workplace safety regulations set by the United States government. Since Trump’s inauguration, there have been no reports of any action being taken against companies accused of violating safety regulations. Is this because there has been no action taken, or will we see Obama-era OSHA regulations and standards being repealed one-by-one?
The importance of the Obama-era press releases lies in their influence over business owners who haven’t yet been accused of violations. Many companies were more inclined to clean up their act and ensure their employees were being safe on the job. It also caused some companies to treat people unfairly when they would file incident reports. Each year in office, an average of 460 reports were released to shame companies who didn’t follow regulations. Since Trump’s inauguration, there hasn’t been a single press release relating to workplace safety enforcement.
Spokeswoman for the Labor Department, Jillian Rodgers, insists there have been no changes to their efforts to enforce current legislation. However, the push to change legislation is apparent. There are lawsuits fighting for an employer’s right to retaliate against whistleblowers. Other standards and regulations relating to a mineral linked to lung disease and record-keeping procedures are currently under fire as well.
These changes have raised a lot of concern for American unions and employee rights activists. There is good reason for their concern too. Recently, the senate passed a measure aiming to repeal a rule requiring any company seeking government funding to provide records pertaining to safety violations and fair pay rules. If Trump signs this into law, companies who violate any government regulation can hide their negative actions and receive government funding.
It is no wonder OSHA has had a hard time making an impact on workplace safety. The house and senate claim the regulations put too much of a burden on the companies and the judiciary, who enforce the rules. However, last year, Congress pushed a law through to double the fines given to companies who violate the safety laws. They also decided to hone in on companies with repetitive violations.
The actions taken against these companies has brought in a significant amount of revenue. They collected as much as $317,000 from Tyson Foods, Birdsboro Kosher Farms, and more. They also won a lawsuit against Ajin USA and collected a $2.5 million dollar fine after a 20-year-old was killed by a robot malfunction. This money could go back to strengthen ethical companies, create jobs, and save lives.
Trump promised to roll back business regulations during his presidency. So far, he is staying true to his word and OSHA is his major target. In fact, OSHA was planning to collect accident data to display for the public. They slated the project to be completed in February. However, companies are not yet able to upload their data into the site.
Only time will tell what the current administration has in store for OSHA and other groups fighting to keep our workers safe. While legislators have their own plans, we will also see workers standing up for their rights once again. Safety rules may be on the chopping block but so are the people completing these important jobs.