Any day now, the leaders at DOL, MSHA and OSHA should be letting us know formally their plans for proposing and issuing worker health and safety protections. This formal notification comes in the form of the Department’s semi-annual regulatory agenda, which pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, is supposed to be published in April and October. Secretary Solis’ first reg agenda was issued (a little late) on May 11, and I’m sure her second agenda is almost ready to hit the streets.
When the Labor Secretary’s first agenda suggested that MSHA didn’t foresee any substantial regulatory action on respirable coal dust until 2011, I griped. I also complained about the OSHA plan, including the absence of a timetable for proposing a rule on combustible dust and offering instead an unnecessary and delay-inducing pre-rule step. OSHA proceeded with that disappointing plan.
My colleagues urged me to hold off with my criticism and cut the Labor Secretary and DOL’s top officials a little slack. “Celeste, they need a little time to settle in. Give them a chance.” OK. I’ve been patient. Secretary Solis has been on the job for more than 8 months. She’s had her own staff setting the direction for MSHA and OSHA, so the “settling in” period should be over. This forthcoming regulatory agenda will be a true indication of the Obama Administration’s commitment to a forward-looking regulatory plan that recognizes that worker H&S regulations in the U.S. are at least a decade behind similar industrialized countries. I hope that I’m not compelled to write a blog post next week explaining why OSHA’s and MSHA’s plans are sadly reminiscent of those published under G.W. Bush.