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Federal agencies | Silica | Mining, oil and gas | Workplace exposures

Perez defends OSHA, MSHA efforts during budget hearing

March 26, 2014

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Washington – Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez went before lawmakers March 26 and defended recent regulatory actions taken by OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

During a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal for the Department of Labor, committee members questioned Perez on OSHA’s proposed rule on crystalline silica.

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) asserted that only about 70 percent of employers comply with the current standard, and asked why resources are not spent on compliance assistance efforts instead of a new rulemaking that could result in lower compliance rates.

“It’s not an ‘either/or’ situation,” Perez responded, claiming that OSHA currently performs “significant” compliance assistance work.

Earlier in the hearing, the secretary defended the silica proposal and the agency’s rulemaking effort, stating that concerns will be addressed in the final rule and he has “a lot of faith in the science” behind the rule.

Likewise, Perez defended the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s process regarding the creation of a new coal dust rule, saying the process has been lengthy and inclusive.

Much of the hearing focused on economic growth, job training and the minimum wage, and Perez said in his opening statement that employers have told him it is false to suggest job growth and job safety are mutually exclusive.