by Jennifer M. Smith, Esq.

President Trump recently signed an executive order which would require agencies, including OSHA, to eliminate two prior regulations for each new regulation which is issued. This could mean that recently enacted OSHA regulations, such as the controversial electronic record keeping rule, could be in peril.

Not only does the order mandate the “2-for-1” requirement, the order also requires agencies to control costs by prohibiting an overall net increase in costs for implementing new rules in 2017, unless, once again, the cost is offset by the repeal of two existing regulations. Trump is attempting to deliver on one of his primary campaign pledges, to significantly decrease federal regulations.

OSHA’s electronic record-keeping rule, which became effective on January 1, 2017, requires data regarding injuries be sent automatically to OSHA, which may then be made publicly available on OSHA’s website. The rule applies to employers with 250 or more employees and with as few as 20 employees in “high-risk industries,” including construction, manufacturing, stores, freight trucking and hospitals.

The rule has created concern among employers who will be required to report data under this rule, many of whom argue that collecting aggregate injury data is one thing, but making specific employer injury information available to the public will cause problems for their businesses. Previously, the data collected was required to be reported but not electronically submitted to OSHA, such that specific claim information was only available to a small group of people. OSHA’s intent in publishing the data is to force employers to drive down reportable claims, ideally improving safety in the process.

Even without Trump’s executive order, if OSHA wants to eliminate an existing regulation, it can do so through formal rulemaking. However, the “2-for-1” requirement may nudge the agency to get rid of unpopular rules to make way for new proposals. We will continue to keep you updated on any relevant changes.