January 9, 2018
After David Zatezalo was confirmed as the new Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the Illinois Association of Aggregates Producers (IAAP) Safety Committee sent him a letter, according to IAAP’s January Update newsletter. The letter to Zatezalo explained IAAP’s concerns with the new workplace exams rule and lack of compliance training coming from MSHA, as well as its interest in Education Field Services funding, the State Grants program, and continuing regional stakeholder meetings. IAAP also extended an invitation to Zatezalo to speak at its upcoming IAAP convention in April 2018.
During the Christmas holiday weekend, IAAP received a response from Zatezalo. The letter is available in its entirety here, but some of the highlights from his response are below:
As you know, my background is in the coal industry. I am eager to learn more about the metal and nonmetal side of mining and its interactions with MSHA. In fact, I have chosen a metal and nonmetal operation in Colorado as my first mine visit as Assistant Secretary.
I appreciate the invitation to speak at your annual convention in April, and I will do all I can to be there. My office is assembling a schedule for the winter and spring and will be in touch with you soon. On a broader note, I could not agree more with the need for ongoing open communication — we can only move forward by talking with and learning from each other.
You mentioned a few specific issues in your letter, and I will do my best to respond. First, regarding the workplace exam rule — as you know, in September 2017, MSHA published a proposed rule to amend the original final rule on workplace exams. The comment period on the proposed limited changes closed on November 13 and MSHA is now considering all comments received, including those submitted by the IAAP.
Regarding training, I agree wholeheartedly that providing appropriate training resources is an essential way for MSHA to achieve its mission. Maintaining and improving training resources, especially for smaller mine operators, is among my top priorities, and I look forward to working with you and other stakeholders to ensure that the training materials and assistance we provide meets the needs of today’s miners and mine operators.
Likewise, we are looking closely at the materials on our website with an eye toward better serving our target audiences. For example, it is fundamental that operators be able to understand MSHA’s requirements and policies so they can successfully follow them. Historically MSHA’s courtesy links to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) did not always provide the most up-to-date information, so a decision was made to link directly to the source of record, the e-CFR, which is maintained by the Government Publishing Office (GPO). Our technology staff and communications specialists are working on a better solution for integrating policy updates and compliance assistance materials with MSHA’s regulations. This is a long-term ongoing project and I hope we will be able to count on your input. We will be reaching out to you and other stakeholders soon.