Nearly 100 days into President Trump’s administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues to wait for leadership and direction; however, Alexander Acosta has now been confirmed as the Secretary of Labor. President Trump nominated Mr. Acosta after President Trump’s first nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination on February 15, 2017. Mr. Acosta will likely steer OSHA in a more business-friendly direction. In previous Republican administrations, OSHA focused more effort on cooperative programs like the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) and less effort on regulatory initiatives and aggressive enforcement. Just how much OSHA’s focus will shift is largely dependent on who President Trump nominates for assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, which is also a position requiring Senate confirmation. Until an assistant secretary of labor is confirmed, Deputy Assistant Secretary Dorothy Dougherty will likely continue as interim head of the agency.
Although the ultimate direction of OSHA under President Trump’s administration remains uncertain, the past few months have been marked, somewhat paradoxically, by regulatory rollbacks and, at the same time, continued aggressive enforcement.