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News Roundup: Federal Agency Nominations, Rule Updates

By Kay Bechtold

Over the past month, news has been trickling out of the federal agencies that oversee occupational safety and health. In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights.

Nominee to lead federal OSHA. On Oct. 27, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Scott A. Mugno of Pennsylvania to head OSHA as assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. Mugno is currently the vice president for safety, sustainability, and vehicle maintenance at FedEx Ground in Pittsburgh, Pa. He has been a member of ASSE since 2004. In a statement, ASSE notes that Mugno has been active in the association’s transportation practice specialty.

Mugno’s confirmation hearing is expected to come up in the Senate before the end of this year; however, no date has been set.

New head of MSHA. On Nov. 15, the U.S. Senate confirmed David G. Zatezalo, former president and CEO of the coal company Rhino Resources GP, LLC, to head federal MSHA as the assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. Senators voted along party lines, 52-46, in favor of Zatezalo, who retired as chairman of Rhino Resources in 2014. He previously served the company as chief operating officer.

There are mixed feelings about Zatezalo’s appointment. Those who oppose his confirmation point to his recent employment with Rhino Resources. Rhino Eastern, of which Rhino Resources is a parent company, previously received two Potential Pattern of Violations notices from MSHA—one in 2010 and another in 2011—for its Eagle #1 mine in West Virginia. Not much activity has come out of MSHA since Zatezalo’s confirmation, so skeptics will have to wait and see what happens with the agency under his leadership.

Electronic reporting. Last week, OSHA announced that it will extend the date by which employers must electronically report injury and illness data through the agency’s Injury Tracking Application. The new compliance date is Dec. 15, 2017. Certain employers will be required to electronically submit injury and illness information that they are already required to keep under existing agency regulations on OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301.

According to OSHA’s press release, the agency is reviewing other provisions of its final rule to improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses, which was published in May 2016. OSHA intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to reconsider, revise, or remove portions of the rule in 2018.

Cranes and construction. OSHA has issued a final rule that extends by another year the date by which construction industry employers must comply with a requirement for crane operator certification, which is required by the agency’s cranes and derricks final rule. The new final rule extends the compliance deadline from Nov. 10, 2017, to Nov. 10, 2018. Employers are also required to ensure that crane operators are trained and competent to operate cranes safely until Nov. 10, 2018.

NIOSH-approved respirators. In response to stakeholder input, the Department of Health and Human Services of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has withdrawn a notice of proposed rulemaking intended to establish total inward leakage requirements for half-mask, air-purifying particulate respirators approved by NIOSH. NIOSH will instead pursue improved inward leakage performance of this class of respirators through participation in national and international consensus standard development efforts.

Stay tuned for further updates! AIHA’s Director of Government Relations, Mark Ames, keeps the membership in the loop with his Government Relations Central e-newsletter. The next issue is scheduled for mid-December, so AIHA members: keep an eye on your inbox. And if you haven’t already, please whitelist the new email address from which AIHA is sending communications: email@communications.aiha.org. Whitelisting this email will ensure that you continue receiving AIHA emails as dictated by your profile preferences.


Kay Bechtold is assistant editor of The Synergist. ​

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