Authored by Courtney Malveaux

Members of a key Congressional committee recently made clear that it is looking to nudge the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) into a more cooperative direction. Some industry leaders have observed that, under the Trump administration, OSHA has begun to do just that.

Last Tuesday, the Workforce Protection Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Workforce held a hearing titled “A More Effective and Collaborative OSHA: A View from Stakeholders.” Subcommittee Chairman Bradley Byrne (R-AL), a former labor attorney, opened the hearing by noting that “employers are continuously struggling to comply with the ever-changing standards and new regulations released by OSHA every year.”  Chairman Byrne recalled visiting a Cintas worksite in Mobile, Alabama as it celebrated its certification as a Star site under OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program, and he applauded workers who make workplace safety a priority.  Recalling fatal incidents at workplaces, Ranking Member Mark Takano (D-CA) urged enhanced criminal sanctions for criminal willful citations, increased enforcement resources and a return to Obama-era rulemakings stalled by the Trump Administration.

Committee members heard testimony from representatives of the Tree Care Industry Association, the National Association of Home Builders and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as Dr. David Michaels, who led OSHA as an Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Obama administration. Witnesses offered ideas such as a national, uniform tree trimming standard, simpler online guidance for small businesses, and deeper involvement of industry stakeholders in rulemakings.

If you want to read the tea leaves on upcoming moves, take note that the Chairwoman of the Education and Workforce Committee, Virginia Foxx (R-NC), emphasized small businesses’ challenges in keeping pace with OSHA regulations and a uniform tree trimming standard. Stay tuned.

For a resource on potential changes OSHA may consider for State Plan states, see OSHA Enforcement of the “As Effective As” Standard for State Plans: Serving Process or People?, 46 U. Rich. L. Rev. 323, 345 (2011).

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to answer questions on developments in workplace safety regulations and legislation.

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Photo of Tressi L. Cordaro Tressi L. Cordaro

Tressi L. Cordaro is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is co-leader of the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group. She advises and represents employers on occupational safety and health matters before federal and state…

Tressi L. Cordaro is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is co-leader of the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group. She advises and represents employers on occupational safety and health matters before federal and state OSHA enforcement agencies.

Ms. Cordaro has advised employers faced with willful and serious citations as the result of catastrophic events and fatalities, including citations involving multi-million dollar penalties. Ms. Cordaro’s approach to representing an employer cited by OSHA is to seek an efficient resolution of contested citations, reserving litigation as the option if the client’s business objectives cannot otherwise be achieved. As a result, she has secured OSHA withdrawals of citations without the need for litigation.

Ms. Cordaro’s unique experience with government agencies involved in OSHA enforcement enables her to provide employers with especially insightful guidance as to how regulators view OSHA compliance obligations, and evaluate contested cases.

Ms. Cordaro served as the Presidentially-appointed Legal Counsel and Special Advisor to the past Chairman and Commissioner Horace A. Thompson, III at the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission (OSHRC) in Washington, DC, the agency that adjudicates contested federal OSHA citations. As the Commissioner’s chief counsel, Ms. Cordaro analyzed all cases presented to the OSHRC and advocated the Commissioner’s position during decisional meetings.

In addition, Ms. Cordaro worked at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration developing OSHA standards, regulations and enforcement and compliance policies, with emphasis on the construction industry. She has in-depth experience on technical issues including, in particular, issues related to cranes and derricks in construction.