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.