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What a Partial Government Shutdown Would Mean for Workplace Safety Enforcement: Is OSHA in “The Final Countdown”?

With the threat of a partial government shutdown looming on December 21, employers are left wondering which government agencies will be impacted if the shutdown occurs. Presently, departments in the following areas will be impacted by a partial government shutdown: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Independent agencies like NASA and the Food and Drug Administration will also be restricted to essential personnel.

However, the vast majority of government agencies will remain open and funded as a result of five spending bills that were previously passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. For example, the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Energy and Water, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Labor will remain funded during the impending government shutdown at the end of this week.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) falls within the umbrella of the Department of Labor and the funding of that agency. So while many government agencies are in their version of Europe’s “Final Countdown,” at least temporarily, OSHA will continue to enforce its regulations and prosecute citations, even if a partial government shutdown occurs on December 21. Employers should take note and be prepared if they are currently undergoing an inspection or defending a citation.  

If you have any questions regarding the impact of the partial government shutdown on workplace safety enforcement, consult Fisher Phillips’ experienced team of workplace safety attorneys who can assist you with asserting your rights during any OSHA inspection or safety-related inquiry.


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