Trump Just Made It Easier For Employers To Hide Workplace Injuries

“This will give license to employers to keep fraudulent records and to willfully violate the law with impunity.”

A rule issued during former President Barrack Obama’s presidency that required industries to keep an ongoing record of health and safety incidents, has now been dismantled after President Donald Trump signed a legislation loosening the reporting requirements.  

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules, employers in dangerous industries must keep an accurate record of workers’ injuries stretching back five years. However, the new legislation rolled out by the Trump administration has successfully shortened the amount of time to six months.

OSHA had made it compulsory for high-hazard industries to maintain a five-year worker injury record and used the data to work on the recurring problems. The regulator also had the authority to penalize any employer who didn’t maintain an acute record of the injuries. Not only that, the data was also used to keep a track on occupational health trends by Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, a court ruled in 2012 that OSHA’s founding law gave the agency only six months to issue a citation from the time the violation occurred. In order to clarify the five-year gap, the Obama administration wrote down the rule.

Republicans were successful in killing the rule with the help of the Chamber of Commerce and business lobbies calling it an unlawful “power grab” by OSHA.

According to workplace safety experts, by rolling back the rule, the Trump administration has made it easier for industries to cover-up their injury data from regulators. It could also make it difficult for OSHA to identify recurring problems.

“This will give license to employers to keep fraudulent records and to willfully violate the law with impunity,” said Debbie Berkowitz, a former OSHA policy adviser now with the National Employment Law Project.

Ever since Trump assumed office, his administration has tried to peel back more than 30 regulations. Democrats have not been able to filibuster them as they need a simple majority to pass the Senate.  So far, the president has signed 11 of the repeals including revoking a rule targeting grizzly bear and wolves in Alaska and another protecting internet users’ privacy.



Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Kevin Lamarque

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