On March 6, 2017, the U.S. Senate voted to eliminate the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order that would have required contractors to disclose and correct serious safety violations in order to compete for federal contracts. A similar measure already passed in the House, and it is expected that President Trump will finalize the move.
Enacted in August 2016, the rule was blocked by court order in October 2016, as the court considered a lawsuit filed by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). One key objection is that the rule would require companies to disclose all citations, including any being challenged, which ABC and other business groups contend would constitute a violation of due process.
Leading into the vote, Senator Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) office issued a report critical of the safety record of many federal government contractors. "Of the 100 largest penalties imposed by OSHA since Jan. 1, 2015, more than a third were issued to companies that have held federal contracts within the last decade, and 12 applied to companies that received contracts worth at least $100,000 from the federal government in 2016," the report states.
One other safety-related rule heading toward revocation is the so-called Volks rule that would give OSHA the authority to cite employers for failures to record or for misrecording workplace injuries or illnesses that occurred up to 5 years prior to when a citation is written. The House used the Congressional Review Act to block the rule on March 1; this measure is now moving to the Senate for a vote there. If it passes, it s expected that President Trump will sign this measure as well.
Originally published March 7, 2017.