One of the questions on the minds of our clients is How will OSHA and other agencies change under a Trump Administration. Experience tells us that there are usually not any wholesale changes to specific regulations, but priorities tend to change. This is the case anytime there is a change in the U.S. Presidency from one political party to the other. Enforcement has been a priority for OSHA under President Obama. OSHA penalties have increased. A Severe Violators Enforcement Program was established. A greater emphasis on whistle blower cases has occurred. Employers, who in OSHA’s opinion, flagrantly violate regulations are publicly shamed through the use of press releases after inspections. This takes place before the employer is able to make its case with OSHA through informal hearings or the courts.
It can be reasonably anticipated that these measures will end or at least be greatly reduced under the Trump administration. Employers will receive greater assistance to create and maintain safe workplaces. Enforcement won’t stop, but will not be as emphasized or publicized by the OSHA. There will likely be a review of recently enacted regulations like the silica standard and changes to the general industry fall protection standard. Regulations will be reviewed to evaluate how much they contribute to employee safety compared with burdens placed on employers.
Looking at trucking safety enforcement, the new leadership within the Department of Transportation will evaluate recent regulations, but is not expected to initiate any major changes immediately. Infrastructure and trade deals will have a greater impact on the transportation industry than changes to the hours of service and speed limiting rules
In a September fact sheet, Trump targeted the FDA’s food safety program stating that “The FDA Food Police, which dictate how the federal government expects farmers to produce fruits and vegetables and even dictates the nutritional content of dog food,” the Trump campaign fact sheet complained.
“The rules govern the soil farmers use, farm and food production hygiene, food packaging, food temperatures and even what animals may roam which fields and when,” the fact sheet continued. “It also greatly increased inspections of food ‘facilities,’ and levies new taxes to pay for this inspection overkill.”
The fact sheet was quickly pulled from the website so we really do not know Trump’s current view on FDA food regulations.
Perhaps the greatest influence the Trump administration will have on FDA food safety regulations is through funding decisions. The FDA has maintained that they need a significant boost in funding to enforce the new regulations. It is not likely that the FDA will see the type of funding increase they claim is needed to run the program.
We don’t expect that our clients will notice a significant difference regarding what they need to do in order to be in compliance with OSHA, DOT (FMCSA) and FDA (FSMA and VFD) regulations. There will continue to be OSHA inspections, motor carrier truck inspections and occasional audits and we expect FDA will continue to move forward to regulate the animal food safety regulations. In our experience we have found that the employers who see value in safety and regulatory compliance beyond just meeting the requirements fare well under any administration.