Labor Secretary announces regulatory priorities for worker health and safety

Last week Labor Secretary Solis released in the Federal Register on April 26, 2010, her Spring 2010 regulatory agenda for the Department, including her rulemaking priorities for MSHA and OSHA. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act it was published on time in April, in contrast to her Fall 2009 agenda which was six weeks late.

This document is described by the Secretary as a:

“…listing of all the regulations it expects to have under active consideration for promulgation, proposal, or review during the coming 1-year period. The focus of all departmental regulatory activity will be on the development of effective rules that advance the Department’s goals and that are understandable and usable to the employers and employees in all affected workplaces.”

As my mentor Dr. Eula Bingham used to say to her staff (during her tenure as OSHA chief the Carter Administration): the only rulemaking activies that truly count for worker health and safety are publishing proposed and final rules. Efforts that distract, divert, or delay the regulation writers’ duties should be avoided. Currently, OSHA has about 100 full-time (FTEs) individuals assigned to its H&S standards office, and MSHA has about 17 FTEs.


Looking at the regulatory activities listed on-line in Secretary Solis’ Unified Agenda, and using Dr. Eula Bingham’s measure of progress, we see the following items identified by MSHA and OSHA:

Final rules:

  • by OSHA: restoring a column on the OSHA 300 log to record musculoskeletal disorders; expected July 2010.
  • by OSHA: enhancing safety for workers around cranes and derricks in construction; expected July 2010

Proposed rules:

  • by OSHA (re-proposal) on walking and working surfaces; expected May 2010
  • by OSHA on enforcement exemption provisions for SHARP sites; expected September 2010
  • by MSHA on coal dust/black lung prevention; by September 2010
  • by OSHA to convert SIC codes to NAICS codes to use in OSHA reports and records; by November 2010
  • by MSHA to revise MSHA policies on civil penalties and pattern of violation; expected January 2011
  • by OSHA on crystalline silica; expected February 2011
  • by MSHA on crystalline silica; expected March 2011
  • by MSHA on pre-shift examinations in underground coal mines; expected March 2011

See my companion posts today entitled:

Perplexed by OSHA’s reg agenda” AND “Puzzled by MSHA’s reg agenda

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