The countdown to the next Presidential election is on and the Obama Administration has some political calculations to make concerning OSHA. The agency can try to push through an aggressive menu of safety regulations and, if a Democrat wins the election, the next President may continue OSHA’s approach. However, if the agency pushes too hard and a Republican wins, the next President may roll back the OSHA initiatives.
So it is worth taking a look at what is on OSHA’s agenda and what may happen in the next 12 months before the election. The National Safety Conference has a very good analysis of the potential regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives that OSHA could push for. You can find that article here.
One change that is not really covered by the article is the proposal to change Process Safety Management (PSM). The Administration tried to address a number of different safety concerns, including the fertilizer explosion in West, Texas, high profile chemical plant incidents and the disturbingly high number of oilfield incidents through a multi-agency task force. One of the primary recommendations of that group was to strengthen and expand the PSM rule. However, the Administration has been slow to start the regulatory process that would drive those changes, so this may be one “bucket list” item where the Administration will run out of time before there is action.
One of the other calculations that the Administration must make is whether there will be opposition to its OSHA agenda in Congress. Congressional pressure has slowed some proposals, like the silica rule. However, the fractured state of the Republican majority, especially in the House may limit the effectiveness of any opposition and embolden the Administration to be more aggressive in the next year.