President Donald Trump's history as a developer could prompt his administration to take a closer look at workplace safety regulations than previous administrations, a new report suggests.
Trump repeatedly vowed to curb a wide range of business regulations on the campaign trail last year, but Safety+Health Magazine highlighted his past run-ins with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
S+H reported that Trump's companies, along with their contractors and subcontractors, received numerous fines for safety violations during his decades as a real estate developer. OSHA fined one contractor more than $100,000 — later reduced to $44,000 — after a worker was killed in a fall at New York's Trump SoHo hotel condominium in 2008.
“Typically, OSHA is not the highest priority agency or one of the agencies that gets a lot of attention early in an administration,” Washington, D.C., attorney Eric Conn told S+H. "I think this could be a unique new administration that does pay some amount of attention to OSHA in the early days because he’s familiar with it."
Conn suggested that the White House could target a rule requiring electronic submissions of workplace injuries and illnesses and prohibiting retaliation against workers who report such incidents. Industry groups, S+H noted, contend that the rule is costly and unnecessary.
Other prominent rules that could be on the chopping block include limits on silica dust exposure and the requirement that federal contract bids disclose previous labor law violations.
Proposals regarding combustible dust and process safety management, meanwhile, are likely to be stopped in their tracks prior to publication.
Observers conceded that workplace safety regulations would broadly remain in effect, while others noted that scrapping rules is often just as complicated as proposing new ones.
Following the S+H report, however, Trump signed an executive order directing agencies to repeal two rules for each new proposal.
Critics argued that order could jeopardize protections for workers as well as consumers and the environment.
“Responsible companies want regulations,” David Michaels, the head of OSHA during the Obama administration, told the Los Angeles Times. “They want a level playing field with rules that everyone has to follow.”