The Trump administration is rolling back another Obama-era regulation, this time one from the Department of Labor (DOL) rule requiring companies with 250 or more workers to submit complicated, detailed forms to the agency on workplace injuries.
The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a notice in July stating that it is seeking to roll back the rule passed under the Obama administration that greatly increased the amount of detail supervisors are supposed to provide to the federal government on workplace injuries.
Some of that information was then posted publicly to the agency website by the DOL under the rule, and included summaries of incidents that occurred in largerscale companies — essentially the information that personal injury lawyers and other attorneys cloaked as “workers’ rights advocates” would seek before filing a lawsuit for millions in damages.
Information Collection Unchanged
A spokesperson for the DOL told NBC News that the rule change “would not alter the agency’s ability to collect information from companies on workplace injuries and safety violations.”
“This proposal maintains safety and health protections for workers while protecting sensitive worker information from public disclosure,” Megan Sweeney, communications director, told the news network. “The data OSHA continues to collect is robust and enables the agency to most effectively protect workers on the job.”
The Labor Department argued that the original rule violated workers’ privacy by exposing incidents where they were involved to exposure under Freedom of Information Act requests. Industry spokesmen argue that the rule is unnecessary, that the rule offered no additional safety protection to workers and it would force companies to hire people whose only job would be to fill out the forms.
This action has, of course, spurred “public safety advocates” to rush to the courts to argued that the rule rollback would only hurt workers. These “Worker Advocates” contend it would allow companies to cover up the extent of injuries.
Rules Protecting Workers
“The existing rule is in place to protect workers,” said Sean Sherman, an attorney at the Public Citizen Litigation Group which is involved in a lawsuit over the rule. “The idea that you can protect workers by rolling back strong worker protection is absurd.”
Virtually every other Trump administration regulation rollback is challenged in court. For example, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), with nearly 300 lawyers on its staff, has filed a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency every eight days since President Trump took office in January 2017.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. Congress established the agency under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which President Richard M. Nixon signed into law on December 29, 1970.
OSHA’s mission is to “assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance”. The agency is also charged with enforcing a variety of whistleblower statutes and regulations. OSHA is currently headed by Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor Loren Sweatt.