Update:  The blog post below was originally posted at the start of the Trump presidency.  Since then, many of these questions have been answered.

In summary, Trump has rolled back many environmental regulations, however these rollbacks haven’t impacted manufacturers.  Most changes have impacted energy and other larger industries.

Luckily, the administration has mostly left OSHA alone other than cutting budgets to some degree.  His base is largely made up of working class blue collar people who demand a safe workplace, and his agenda has supported that goal.

 

Will Trump Roll-Back OSHA and EPA Regulations As They Apply to Manufacturing?

Anyone who followed the recently completed Presidential election knows that one of Donald Trump’s major campaign platforms was/is his promise to improve the economy, jobs, and specifically US manufacturing. As President Elect Trump begins planning his transition into office, it’s worthwhile to get a better understanding of his proposed policies aimed towards achieving this goal. I’ve taken the liberty of reviewing his new website to get a better understanding of his intentions. 

Under the heading of “Making America Great Again,” his website has a sub-heading called “Getting America Back to Work Again.” Under this section, there are several sub-sections including “Regulatory Reform.”  A quick review of this section reveals the following summary points:

  • Temporary moratorium on ALL new regulations
  • Canceling of overarching executive orders
  • Review of all current regulations to eliminate unnecessary ones that kill jobs and bloat government

The section includes an interesting summary statement: “While reasonable regulations are needed to address issues ranging from ensuring public safety to ensuring proper stewardship of our National Parks’ crown jewels, this can be accomplished without the profound damage to our economy and our freedoms that is currently inflicted by the regulatory bureaucracy.  The Trump administration is committed to regulatory reform that will produce sensible regulations that allow America to be great.”

What does it all mean in regards to OSHA and environmental regulations as they apply to manufacturing?

Here are my summary $0.02 thoughts and opinions:

It’s important to begin by pointing out that government regulations are vast and include a wide variety of topics including  financial/banking, pricing practices, wages, discrimination, etc, and that environmental, health and safety laws make up only a small fraction of overall Federal regulations.

It’s also important to understand that small businesses are the “engine of the US economy” and account for the vast majority of existing employment and employment growth in our country, and that these same small businesses can incur significant costs when trying to meet their OSHA and environmental compliance requirements, especially when being fined and penalized for failing to do so.  Many would argue that EHS compliance is not only their legal obligation, but also their moral and civic obligation in order to protect their employees, local communities and the environment, but not everyone agrees…  According to the National Association of Manufacturers, over 99% of US manufacturers have less than 500 employees, and 75% have less than 20 employees.  (Although Trump didn’t talk much about construction, the construction industry has an even larger % of small businesses as compared to manufacturing).  The potential impact on small business could therefore factor into Trump’s calculus on this issue.

  • Temporary moratorium on ALL new regulations:
    • No new OSHA standards and rule implementation until the “moratorium” is over?
    • No new EPA, or corresponding state environmental regulations, until the “moratorium” is over?
  • Canceling of overarching executive orders
    • Could this role back the recent 78% OSHA fine increases that went into effect in August?
    • Could this role back the recent 50-100% environmental fine increases that went into effect in August?
    • Given that these fine increases were part of the much larger “Bi-Partisan Balanced Budget Act” aimed at reducing the Federal Defecit, this might be hard to do,
  • Review of all current regulations to eliminate unnecessary ones that kill jobs and bloat government