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A former Obama-era OSHA official is warning of increased risks to workers, uneven safety enforcement by states as well as several other risks that could result from the looming shutdown of the federal government, which is expected to furlough many OSHA employees until funding is restored.

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Industry attorneys say that there is a “heightened risk” the Trump adminstration will bring “high level criminal prosecutions” targeting worker safety violations under Obama-era practices that rely on stricter environmental laws, despite officials' emphasis on compliance assistance.

Attorneys are urging industry groups to more closely track and engage with environmentalists' litigation under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), saying initial suits could set important precedents that will determine how the new law is ultimately implemented.

The Abrasive Blasting Manufacturers Alliance (ABMA), a group seeking to scale back the Obama OSHA's strict beryllium standard, is pushing to subject competitors whose products rely on non-slag alternatives to the rule's protections, releasing a study that claims that crushed glass abrasives that competitors use contain beryllium and are thus subject to the standard.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer's (D-NY) recent call for OSHA to establish a system to notify first responders when a local company is cited for serious violations involving flammable materials is drawing criticism from both labor and industry officials who are raising doubts about its effectiveness in increasing safety.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) has postponed until next week a scheduled Jan. 11 vote to consider several Labor Department nominees, including Scott Mugno, the Trump administration's nominee to lead OSHA.

The number of OSHA inspectors has declined by 4 percent since President Donald Trump has taken office, according to a NBC News Report, raising concerns from a former Obama official and labor advocates that declining agency resources are harming workplace safety and fear the trend will continue despite the administration ending a hiring freeze on new inspectors.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is urging OSHA to “maximize” and expand its Obama-era injury reporting requirements to collect more information on injured employees and develop a publicly available and searchable injury and illness database, raising a potential hurdle to Trump administration efforts to roll back the rule.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) is urging Scott Mugno, the Trump administration's pick to lead OSHA, and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, to establish a system to notify local governments and first responders when a local company is cited for serious OSHA violations, a call that could set the bar for Mugno's pending confirmation.

The Labor Department (DOL) is renewing claims that the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act grants OSHA power to cite so-called “controlling employers” for violations affecting another company's workers, even as it rejects industry claims that it should not be entitled to deference when interpreting vague statutory provisions.

Short Takes

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has set oral argument for March 16 in litigation challenging EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's almost two-year delay of an Obama-era rule tightening the agency's Risk Management Plan (RMP) facility safety program.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) has advanced the nomination of Scott Mugno, the FedEx safety executive tapped by the Trump administration's to lead OSHA, clearing the way for a full floor vote on his confirmation.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Jan. 9 will publish recommendations for improving reporting and use of worker injury and illness data, part of a study sponsored as part of the Obama OSHA's efforts to bolster its use of such data, as the Trump administration looks to scale back the agency's 2016 update to its injury record-keeping rule.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) has scheduled a Jan. 11 vote to consider Scott Mugno, the FedEx safety executive tapped by the Trump administration's to lead OSHA.