OSHA has been backing down on the number of press releases naming alleged safety violators and recently removed names from its website.
By Karen Edwards, RCS Editor.
A recent article by Business Insurance says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is continuing to shift away from its policy of publicly shaming employers for workplace safety incidents. Workplace fatality data has been recently removed from the OSHA website. The site used to feature a section that stated the number of people who lost their lives on the job each year and listed the names of those who recently had died.
Since the Trump administration took office earlier this year, there have been changes to some of the agency’s regulations. In March, President Trump signed a resolution to overturn the Volks rule, which had authorized OSHA to extend its enforcement authority of recordkeeping violations from six months to five years.  Companies still are required to maintain logs for the previous five years but now cannot be cited by the agency for incidents beyond the six-month mark.  Business groups have often criticized Obama-era safety rules for slowing down economic growth and the creation of new jobs and it seems that the Trump administration agrees.
OSHA is also slowing down the number of press releases it issues for citations. It wasn’t uncommon to see four or five press releases regarding companies with citations and fines over $40,000. In August, there were only five press releases in total for the entire month.
The OSHA press releases announce citations that allege that a company was found at fault. If cases were resolved, OSHA wouldn’t issue any kind of follow up statement to negate the previous allegation, causing potential harm to a company’s reputation who was named in one of the releases.
Not everyone is happy about it OSHA pulling back. David Michaels, former assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health in Washington and professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. told Business Insurance, “If the stories of workers who are killed aren’t told, they become invisible and there’s little reminder to employers why safety is so important.”
Others support the change in direction. Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce tells Business Insurance that public shaming never really had the impact that the Obama administration thought it would have: “If you look at the rates of injuries and illnesses and fatalities, they never came down in any real appreciable way given the emphasis the previous administration put on that strategy as a way to bring those numbers down.”
For more information on OSHA, visit www.osha.gov
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