June 7, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Washington, DC – Since President Donald Trump took office, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued only four press releases announcing the names of employers it has penalized for job-safety violations—down from 199 issued in the same period last year.
During the Obama administration, OSHA issued a statement whenever it fined an employer more than $40,000. But while the agency had fined more than 100 employers that much as of May 31, it did not announce any until April, after it assessed penalties of $1.475 million against Atlantic Drain Service of Boston for violations related to a trench collapse that killed two workers last October. On May 18, six Democratic senators—Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Al Franken of Minnesota, Patty Murray of Washington, Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, and Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania—asked the Department of Labor’s inspector general to review OSHA’s “decision to cease public notification of major findings.” “Attorneys have told us that their clients don’t care about low OSHA fines; what really scares them is getting mentioned in a press release,” Jordan Barab, the No. 2 OSHA official in the Obama administration, told the Fair Warning Web site. Read more