NSSGA went to OMB’s Office of Regulatory and Information Affairs (OIRA) May 13 to make its case against a planned rulemaking concerning workplace exams for which there is already the 18002 standard. With Dave Thomey, past NSSGA Board Chair and currently consultant to Blue Grass Materials, NSSGA’s Pam Whitted and Joseph Casper told OIRA staff that a proposed rule on workplace exams would place excessive burden on operators with no commensurate benefit to employee safety and health.

NSSGA made the point that 15 years of successive injury rate reductions show that a new rulemaking here would be redundant. NSSGA then asserted that changes to the rule’s provisions on such issues as ‘competent person’ would likely create unneeded paperwork and otherwise undercut the ability to manage for safety. NSSGA substantiated this by stating that changing the definition of ‘competent person’ so that relatively fewer hourly workers conduct exams would reverse the recent operator trend toward granting more autonomy to hourly workers so that they could effectively seek out hazards at their workspaces.

Additionally, NSSGA contended that while a new proposal would increase focus on conditions, the fact is most safety improvements in recent years have come from increased emphasis on behaviors. Finally, NSSGA stated that spikes in operator costs from a new rule would divert resources needed for future capital investments in safety and related training.

The OMB and MSHA staff present made no comments about future plans for a rulemaking. NSSGA will keep members apprised of possible rulemaking activity in this area.

Credit: Joseph Casper, NSSGA

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