NSSGA concerned on workplace exam rule

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association made a case against a planned rulemaking for workplace exams before the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), on May 13.

MSHA is seeking to tighten the workplace exams rule which was issued last year, and NSSGA voiced concerns over those changes multiple times. OIRA serves as the final arbitrator on regulatory agency rules, and NSSGA sought to raise awareness of the negative effects on the industry that could result from an unnecessarily strict regulation.

Dave Thomey, former association chairman and current consultant to Blue Grass Materials, and association staff told OIRA and MSHA staff that a stricter workplace exams rule would place excessive burden on operators with no equal benefit to employee safety and health.

They also said that the rule appears to be more than the industry requires, given that injury rates have steadily improved over 15 years. The association told OIRA that changes to the definition of a “competent person” to conduct workplace exams would likely create unneeded paperwork and otherwise undercut the ability to manage for safety.

Operators having been granting more autonomy to hourly workers to seek out hazards at their workspaces, but the new rule would make it so that fewer employees would be qualified to conduct exams.

Additionally, the association contended that while a new proposal would increase focus on workplace conditions, the fact is that most safety improvements in recent years have come from increased emphasis on behaviors.

Staff from OMB and MSHA made no comments about future plans for the rule, and the asociation will keep members apprised of updates.

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