When Trump first took the office of President, he promised massive cuts to regulations, though at the time, he said he would exempt regulations that were set in place to protect workers’ health.
However, the trump administration has made efforts to eliminate safety protections that impact:
- Mine safety inspections
- Offshore oil rigs
- Line speeds in meat processing plants
The administration’s moves to deregulate safety measures has put the president at odds with workers’ rights advocates across the United States. While the President might consider himself a champion of the working class, his attempts to cut back safety protections has many concerned about the affect the changes will have on workplace conditions throughout the country.
According to Peg Seminario, director of occupational safety and health for the AFL-CIO, “When you look at core worker protections and union rights, the administration and the president have been totally anti-worker.”
Defending the actions of President Trump, Deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters said the administration “is committed to protecting health and safety on the job while respecting the right of Americans to make their own decisions. Too often in the past, agencies issued regulations that constricted the freedom of American workers and small business owners to work in the best way.”
Administration officials at the Interior Department are also attempting to cut back regulations for offshore oil rigs. In 2010, President Barack Obama enacted new regulations that require the use of government-approved third parties to inspect blowout preventers that seal a well in case of a pressure surge.
Environmental advocates have warned that that the new changes could cause another deadly spill like the Deepwater Horizon blowout that killed 11 workers and flooded the Gulf of Mexico with millions of barrels of oil.
Shanna Devine, a worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen, said “History itself has demonstrated that the industry can’t be trusted to self-regulate. That resulted in the same regulation the Trump administration is now trying to roll back.”
Meanwhile at the Agriculture Department, officials have been discussing plans to raise line speeds at meat-packing plants. According to workers’ rights advocates, this change would likely increase accidents, particularly repetitive motion-related accidents. Government data shows that the injury rates in the meatpacking industry are already higher than other industries in the United States.
Mark Lauritsen, director of meat packing and food processing for the United Food and Commercial Workers, said that increasing line speeds could cause increases in shoulder, neck, back, and wrist injuries. According to him, “common sense would tell you [that] you cannot increase line speeds at a fast, repetitive motion and not expect injuries to go up.” Lauritsen also fears that workers will be tempted to take more shortcuts if line speeds end up increasing.
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