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Trump administration slow to hire OSHA safety inspectors

The Trump administration has been slow to fill open safety inspector positions at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which reportedly could leave OSHA short-staffed and U.S. workplaces with less oversight, according to www.constructiondive.com.

Between Jan. 20, 2017, and Oct. 2, 2017, 40 inspectors retired from a staff of 1,000 but were not replaced. OSHA officials say that since the beginning of October 2017, the agency has hired new inspectors and is recruiting for more than 24 additional inspector positions but did not detail exactly how many individuals have been or would be hired.

The Trump administration's plan to reduce federal bureaucracy could be behind the hiring lag, and many other federal agencies also are working with fewer employees. However, according to the Department of Labor (DOL), OSHA inspections increased through September 2017 by a few hundred compared with 2016.

President Trump campaigned in part on regulatory reform and a promise to eliminate waste in federal government. In January 2017, he instituted a federal hiring freeze, which led to concerns DOL would not be able to adequately investigate wage and other violations, although that order was lifted in April 2017. He also ordered last year that certain infrastructure projects be fast-tracked past what the administration considers cumbersome and time-consuming environmental and permitting processes.

In addition, federal agency heads were directed to send no new regulations for publication by the Office of the Federal Register; withdraw those that had been recently submitted; and push back the effective date of those that already had been published.

Some are concerned with the potential effects of reducing OSHA inspection and enforcement staff. In December 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there was a 7 percent overall increase in fatal workplace accidents in 2016, with a 6 percent increase in construction.


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