Labor Eases Some Workplace Rules, but Fails to Impress Business Group


The Labor Department recently announced four new workplace rules aimed at delivering on the Obama administration’s promise to ease the regulatory burden on employers, but at least one major business group is unimpressed.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Nov. 20 published a rule that updates and streamlines safety standards for workers’ use of mechanical power presses, reducing paperwork and the required number of inspections. Labor’s Employment and Training Administration the same day rescinded outdated Foreign Labor Certification regulations for the H-2A, F-1 and H-1A visa programs affecting farm workers, loggers, nurses and college students taking off-campus jobs.

"Creating a framework that ensures workers are safe and treated fairly is the right thing to do, and updating rules and standards is also the right thing to do," said David Michaels, assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health. "The rules announced today maintain standards, lessen the burden on employers and help grow our economy."

The visa rules are final, while the OSHA rules are open for comment until Dec 20, the department said, and will take effect in February barring significant adverse comment.

Marc Freedman, executive director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told Government Executive, “At best the OSHA changes will have no impact. The reason OSHA is abandoning these regulations is because they have no value, which means they are no longer being followed or enforced. When spread out over the number of employers covered, the hours saved will be de minimis for any given employer.”

(Image via ndoeljindoel/

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