by Julia Banegas

How would the Trump administration’s government reorganization plan affect highly technical workplace safety programs, such as OSHA and MSHA? Part of the plan, announced June 21, 2018, proposes merging the Department of Labor (where OSHA and MSHA sit) and the Department Education into a new agency named the “Department of Education and the Workforce.”…

As the mining industry continues to wait for any new direction at MSHA to reveal itself, last week, MSHA published a request for information (RFI) in the Federal Register that could be the beginning of a new rulemaking on powered haulage equipment. The RFI covers aspects of both surface and underground mines, as well as both coal and metal/non-metal.

As its new workplace exam rule took effect this month, MSHA has been posting sample workplace exam forms that mine operators may wish to use. While MSHA does not explicitly say that the forms are “official” or “approved,” the implication is that MSHA would accept these forms as complying with the new rule.

OSHA’s new final silica rule that dramatically reduces allowable exposures to respirable crystalline silica takes effect this week for most employers. In particular, the rule kicks in on June 23, 2018 for employers in general industry, maritime companies, and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the oil and gas industry (for fracking, engineering controls still do not take effect until June 2021).