While Everyone Was Focused on the Shutdown, the White House Rolled Back Worker Safety Rules
President Donald Trump may have run his 2016 campaign as a champion of the working class, but his administration seems to be chipping away at worker protections.
During the president’s 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government, the White House quietly dissolved a 2016 regulation requiring certain employers to electronically submit reports of workplace injuries to the Department of Labor.
The Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses regulation, enacted under the Obama administration, required employers to submit injury and illness data to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The data would be used to help determine unsafe work conditions, and the public disclosure of workplace injuries was intended to urge employers to improve safety in the workplace. The rule also protected workers from retaliation from employers when reporting.
Trump officials first stalled the electronic reporting rule in 2017, and amended it last summer to drop the requirement for employers to submit detailed injury reports to OSHA, Vox reports. The final amendment was reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget over the course of just six weeks, and published on Jan. 25, during the shutdown.
Labor rights and public health groups, including the Public Citizen Health Research Group, the American Public Health Association, and Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, stating that the regulation should be declared unlawful.
Defendants included Department of Labor Secretary Rene Alexander Acosta, the Department of Labor, and OSHA.
“OSHA has failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its change in position, failed to adequately consider comments submitted in opposition to the change, and relied on considerations that have no sound basis in law,” the lawsuit states.
The process to amend the regulation was “clearly rushed,” Peg Seminario, the safety and health director of AFL-CIO told Vox, “because the Trump administration wanted to relieve employers of having to report their injury data.”
“In regard to funded agencies and excepted activities, the agency rulemaking process continued throughout the lapse in appropriations,” a senior administration official with the Office of Budget and Management told Fortune. “Consistent with the law, OIRA [Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs] provided necessary support to those agencies and activities.”