View Author 1 November 2012
Consistency and clarity are vital to both industry and the agencies charged with regulating industry. Confusion and inconsistency regarding compliance in the marketplace and by agencies result in unpredictable and wasted enforcement efforts that siphon precious resources away from programs—both private and public—aimed at improving worker safety. Consistency is manifold; we seek consistency within the industry, and the agency (here, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)), but also across agencies, even those that exist within the same cabinet department. For example, the two workplace safety and health agencies within the U.S. Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and MSHA have virtually identical Congressional Mandates. In OSHA’s case it is “to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources....” MSHA is likewise charged with protecting “the health and safety of its most precious resource—the miner.” While similar types of work and conditions frequently exist on both OSHA and MSHA sites, too often the two agencies approach a single problem in significantly different ways. For example, OSHA and MSHA have very different hearing conservation programs, despite the fact that noise is noise, regardless of whether the noise is found at a mine site or a construction site.