What does President Barack Obama’s winning re-election bid mean for the future of OSHA and occupational health and safety in general? According to Aaron Trippler, director of government affairs for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), Obama’s re-election is unlikely to result in any drastic changes in the occupational safety and health arena.

“I don’t see this administration making a big push on specific OSHA issues,” Trippler said.

Congress, he explained, is going to be tied up for months to address the deficit and budget. OSHA, meanwhile, likely will continue to push its proposed Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) as a No. 1 priority. He added that OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels – assuming he continues to lead the agency throughout Obama’s second term – possibly may also take steps to update the long-outdated permissible exposure limits (PELs).

“I would like to see OSHA try to address putting together an option for updating permissible exposure limits,” Trippler said. “Yes, I’d like to see them move on some of the other issues, like silica and beryllium, combustible dust and [diacetyl], but I just don’t know if they can. I think they’d be better to limit themselves to two to three things and move those things forward.”

Trippler anticipated that under another 4 years of the Obama administration, OSHA likely “will focus funds on enforcement to show enforcement has had an impact.” He also suggested keeping a close eye on the relationship between federal OSHA and state plans, which receive 50 percent of their funding from federal OSHA. If OSHA’s budget is slashed, Trippler said, state programs may struggle to support themselves.

“I think you’ll see OSHA and state plans working closely together, [and] this administration working closely with third parties,” he said.