Safety and OSHA News

OSHA nominee: I support criminal penalties, including jail, where appropriate

President Trump’s nominee to head OSHA addressed jail time for safety violators, regulations, making citations public and more at his confirmation hearing before a U.S. Senate committee. 

Scott Mugno, currently Vice President for Safety, Sustainability and Vehicle Maintenance at FedEx Ground, answered questions from the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions on Dec. 5.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked Mugno if he would seek criminal penalties, including jail, for employers when an employee is killed because the company willfully violated workplace safety laws.

Mugno told Warren he would pursue criminal penalties against employers in such cases after consulting with Department of Labor lawyers and the Department of Justice.

Warren also asked Mugno if he would reinstate a policy of issuing press releases for major violations and proposed fines above $40,000.

“I do agree that communications of these types of events has an advantage in others knowing what’s happening out there, so I think that’s why this is critical, to find out what the right criteria is,” Mugno said.

OSHA has issued fewer press releases when it fines companies under the Trump administration compared to when President Obama was in office.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) took Mugno to task over his work with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has sued to overturn several OSHA regulations, including the electronic recordkeeping rule. Murray asked Mugno if there’s ever been an OSHA regulation that he supported.

Mugno said he couldn’t recall whether he’d written any comments in support of an OSHA regulation, but he saw the agency as an ally while working at FedEx.

The nominee also supported expansion of OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs which recognize employers that have implemented effective safety and health management systems and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries.

Mugno also expressed support for the role organized labor has played in workplace safety. He noted that while he was in high school and college, he worked at a Macy’s and belonged to a branch of the AFL-CIO. “I was Shop Steward for my department,” Mugno noted. “And yes, I wrote grievances and some of them for safety issues.”

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