Outgoing OSHA Head Hopes for Bipartisan Support of Rules

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By Bruce Rolfsen

Nov. 30— Outgoing OSHA head David Michaels hopes his Trump administration successor will support rules the agency intends to issue before Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and rules recently published.

The two rules Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials want issued in coming weeks are standards regulating exposure to the metal beryllium and requiring employers to maintain accurate injury and illness records for at least five years.

Michaels said Nov. 30 that the two rules have been in development for years and been through the public comment and review process.

“Regulations take a tremendous time to issue because a lot of thought goes into it,” Michaels said. “Once they are issued, they have a certain permanence.”

So far, there has been no indication what incoming Department of Labor political appointees may think of the pending rules.

Transition Team at Work

“The transition team is in the building and discussions are going on now,” was Michaels’ comment on the handover.

The beryllium rule (RIN:1218-AB76) was drafted at the request of the nation’s largest beryllium manufacturer, Materion Brush Inc., and the union representing many of Materion’s employees, the United Steelworkers.

“We think the rule will be welcomed by both industry and labor,” Michaels said.

The recordkeeping rule (RIN:1218-AC84) has largely been opposed by employers. Companies said the change will enable OSHA to fine worksites for up to five years after a recordkeeping error occurred.

Five-Year Requirement

OSHA pursued the five-year requirement after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in April 2012, in a case known as Volks II, that OSHA couldn’t cite employers for alleged recordkeeping violations that occurred more than six months prior to an inspection ( AKM LLC v Sec’y of Labor, Volks II, D.C. Cir., No. 11-1106, 4/6/12 ).

Michaels also said the new administration should back rules issued earlier this year including the silica standard (RIN:1218-AB70) and the electronic recordkeeping rule (RIN:1219-AC49) that also contains restrictions on drug testing and safety incentive programs. OSHA believes some programs discriminate against or punish workers who report safety concerns or report injuries and illnesses.

“In silica, we’ve already seen many employers change their processes and acquire the right equipment to make sure employees are safe,” Michaels said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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