2019 OSHA Outlook

2019 OSHA Outlook

1. OSHA Leader?

The start of 2019 for OSHA looks like it could start without a confirmed leader. Currently Loren Sweatt, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary, is the acting Assistant Secretary of Labor. The top position opened up after Dr. David Michaels stepped down in January 2017. President Trump nominated Scott Mugno in October of 2017, but Mungo has not yet been confirmed.

According to some accounts, Mungo’s confirmation may be held up as part of a deal between Republicans and Democrats regarding other position confirmations. Also, there is speculation that since the Democrats now have gained control of the House, we will not see a confirmation hearing for this position during the rest of President Trump’s first term. If confirmed, Mungo would be the 13th person to be nominated and confirmed.

Below is a little history regarding the Assistant Secretary of Labor position in the form of a timeline:

2. 2019 Budget?

The FY 2019 Congressional Budget Justification for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration document that was submitted included the following budget activity increases:

OSHA’s new budget was just recently passed and signed into law. “Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019” (H. R. 6157) provides OSHA with a $557,787,000 budget for FY 2019. This is about a five million dollar increase from FY 2018.

The act also specifies the following:

3. 2019 Focus?

In examining OSHA’s potential focus in 2019 we will look at three areas: standards currently in the process, possibility of deregulation and the likelihood of increased enforcement.

Standards?

Below is the current status of OSHA standards in the rulemaking process according to their website as of 11/12/2018. You can select the links in the RIN (Regulation Identifier Number) column for more specific details.

Agency

Agenda Stage of Rulemaking

Title

RIN

DOL/OSHA

Prerule Stage

Communication Tower Safety

1218-AC90

DOL/OSHA

Prerule Stage

Emergency Response and Preparedness

1218-AC91

DOL/OSHA

Prerule Stage

Mechanical Power Presses Update

1218-AC98

DOL/OSHA

Prerule Stage

Powered Industrial Trucks

1218-AC99

DOL/OSHA

Prerule Stage

Lock-Out/Tag-Out Update

1218-AD00

DOL/OSHA

Prerule Stage

Tree Care Standard

1218-AD04

DOL/OSHA

Prerule Stage

Prevention of Workplace Violence in Health Care and Social Assistance

1218-AD08

DOL/OSHA

Prerule Stage

Blood Lead Level for Medical Removal

1218-AD10

DOL/OSHA

Prerule Stage

Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica; Revisions to Table 1 in the Standard for Construction

1218-AD18

DOL/OSHA

Proposed Rule Stage

Amendments to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard

1218-AC81

DOL/OSHA

Proposed Rule Stage

Update to the Hazard Communication Standard

1218-AC93

DOL/OSHA

Proposed Rule Stage

Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Exemption Expansions for Railroad Roadway Work

1218-AD07

DOL/OSHA

Proposed Rule Stage

Puerto Rico State Plan

1218-AD13

DOL/OSHA

Proposed Rule Stage

Exposure to Beryllium NPRM to Review General Industry Provisions

1218-AD20

DOL/OSHA

Final Rule Stage

Standards Improvement Project IV

1218-AC67

DOL/OSHA

Final Rule Stage

Quantitative Fit Testing Protocol: Amendment to the Final Rule on Respiratory Protection

1218-AC94

DOL/OSHA

Final Rule Stage

Rules of Agency Practice and Procedure Concerning OSHA Access to Employee Medical Records

1218-AC95

DOL/OSHA

Final Rule Stage

Crane Operator Qualification in Construction

1218-AC96

DOL/OSHA

Final Rule Stage

Technical Corrections to 35 OSHA Standards and Regulations

1218-AD12

DOL/OSHA

Final Rule Stage

Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

1218-AD17

DOL/OSHA

Final Rule Stage

Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in Construction and Shipyard Sectors

1218-AD21

DOL/OSHA

Long-Term Actions

Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements--Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Column

1218-AC45

DOL/OSHA

Long-Term Actions

Infectious Diseases

1218-AC46

DOL/OSHA

Long-Term Actions

Process Safety Management and Prevention of Major Chemical Accidents

1218-AC82

DOL/OSHA

Long-Term Actions

Shipyard Fall Protection--Scaffolds, Ladders and Other Working Surfaces

1218-AC85

I find the following standards from the table above to be noteworthy:

Deregulation?

At the beginning of the Trump administration, many experts were predicting substantial changes for OSHA. These included budget cuts, leaner regulations and a focus change from enforcement to compliance assistance. There was also that infamous statement that all new regulations would require two existing ones to be cut.

So, at first it looked like we might see huge changes towards deregulation. However, in reality that has not quite been the case. OSHA has not been churning out new or revised regulations at a fervent pace but there have been a few. Additionally, OSHA’s budget for 2019 is increasing as will the number of the agency’s full-time employees.

Increased Enforcement?

According to the FY 2019 Congressional Budget Justification for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with the 2019 budget increase, increased enforcement seems to be more likely than a decrease. It also seems, although there have been no officially released statements, that the new injury and illness reporting information will be used by OSHA and state plans to help in the selection process for the increased enforcement.

Below are two statements directly from the FY 2019 Congressional Budget Justification for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

4. Penalties

Due to the good possibility of increased enforcement activities from OSHA in 2019, I thought it might be a good idea to remind everyone what the possible penalties are.

Criminal/Willful Violations: “Any employer who willfully violates any standard, rule or order promulgated pursuant to Section 6 of this Act, or of any regulations prescribed pursuant to this Act, and that violation caused death to any employee, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or by both; except that if the conviction is for a violation committed after a first conviction of such person, punishment shall be by a fine of not more than $20,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both”.

Maximum Civil Penalties:

Type of Violation

Penalty

Serious
Other-Than-Serious
Posting Requirements

$12,934 per violation

Failure to Abate

$12,934 per day beyond the abatement date

Willful or Repeated

$129,336 per violation

Making a false statement to a CSHO during the course of an investigation could be a criminal offense. Making a false statement, upon conviction, is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or six months in jail, or both.

Summary

In an attempt to summarize all the information presented above, let me leave you with another paragraph from the FY 2019 Congressional Budget Justification for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

“OSHA will use four broad categories to guide its activities. Through compliance assistance, training and outreach; enforcement; and standards and guidance development, the agency promotes and improves overall compliance with workplace safety and health standards. Through whistleblower protection, OSHA also protects employees from retaliation and discrimination.”

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