Safety and OSHA News

Will official’s departure open door to more OSHA regs?

Cass Sunstein is leaving as head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Obama administration. What could that mean for OSHA regulations if Obama wins a second term?

OIRA oversees all proposed federal regulations, including those from OSHA.

Sunstein, often referred to as the President’s regulatory czar, has been criticized in some corners for holding up various proposed OSHA regulations.

A key example is an update of OSHA’s crystalline silica regulation.

In January, 300 scientists, physicians and public health experts urged President Obama to direct OIRA to complete its review of the proposed silica regulation update. At that point, OIRA had already been reviewing the proposed rule for nearly a year. The Executive Order giving OIRA authority for such review sets a four-month maximum.

It appears Sunstein was making few people happy in Washington. Democrats didn’t like him because they felt he was holding up important new regulations. Republicans said Sunstein wasn’t doing enough to eliminate burdensome regulations.

The fact that he pleased neither side of the political spectrum makes you wonder whether Sunstein was a master of compromise or a complete failure.

Among the proposals Sunstein blocked was one from OSHA to add a column in injury reporting forms for ergonomic injuries.

Sunstein’s OIRA was also behind OSHA backing off of a clarification of its noise standard.

OSHA administrator David Michaels had called for both measures.

In this day and age of Republicans and Democrats fighting over whether regulations are bad or good for business, it’s strange that the ergonomic and noise proposals were proposed and killed within the same Democratic administration.

At three months before the election, current polling shows it’s entirely possible President Obama will win a second term.

Those who opposed what Sunstein’s OIRA was doing hope this will give certain types of new regulations a fresh start in a second Obama term.

Others believe Sunstein’s departure will make no real difference.

Want to weigh in on the possibility of new OSHA regulations? Let us know what you think in the comments box below.

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  1. I think he was simply just more focused on the environmental side. That’s where the political donations come in from.

    This administration is no stranger to contraditcting themselves. They have done it frequently within the DoL. See the 2 examples you mentioned and add in the proposal to ban kids from working on their family farm. In that case Hilda Solis even released a statement saying that she was working to “protect the family farm”. So she saved farmers from a rule that her department pushed in the first place.

    The only thing that has been keeping these regs in line is public comments and public outrage. It is all politics. The ergonomics column and hearing testing changes only shows how political our regulatory environment is. If there would have been any understanding about the effect of the rule changes prior to their proposal, they would have never been proposed in the first place.

    The claim that Sunstein may have been a “master of compromise” shows that Fred obviously does not know who Sunstein is. He is simply an extremist academic. The guy flad out said we should ban hunting and that animals should be allowed to file lawsuits. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

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