In Tuesday’s midterm election, Republicans regained control of the Senate while increasing their majority in the House. What does this mean for occupational safety?
For starters, major pieces of legislation aimed at modernizing workplace safety will be few and far between. Although mining safety enforcement was overhauled under a Republican-controlled Congress during the George W. Bush administration, the GOP has in recent years has resisted similar updates to either mining safety or the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Secondly, expect close scrutiny of the Obama administration. During the past four years in the GOP-controlled House, Republicans have convened a handful of hearings to question administration officials about the regulatory agenda. New Senate chairs will likely conduct similar hearings next term, especially as David Michaels and company near the end of Barack Obama’s presidency and seek to wrap up their agenda.
And lastly, OSHA’s budget won’t change much. I expect the amount allocated for the agency to remain relatively similar to now, perhaps with enforcement receiving a little less and compliance assistance receiving a bit more.
The real question is one of riders. Three years ago, Republicans successfully attached a budgetary provision that barred OSHA from collecting data on musculoskeletal disorders. Might the GOP try similar maneuvers for other opposed agency actions? If so, those provisions may well get through – I can’t see Obama vetoing a massive budget bill over a few OSHA riders.
Check in regularly with safetyandhealthmagazine.com for updates on how the GOP win will play out.
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