Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

What happens when Federal regulators pervert the mission

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The mission of Federal regulators is quite clearly to protect the public and workers (the latter, for example, by OSHA inspections). But all too often the mission becomes perverted, and the regulators start trying to protect the businesses and industries being regulated rather than their customers and workers.

Here’s a good example, reported in the Washington Post by Steven Mufson:

A scathing report by an independent panel has blamed federal regulators for failing to take steps that might have prevented the disaster that killed 29 workers at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine two years ago.

The 26-page report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says that the Mine Safety and Health Administration failed to heed warning signs or implement the agency’s own regulations, leaving in place conditions that led to the explosion and fire that swept through the mine on April 5, 2010.

“If MSHA had engaged in timely enforcement of the Mine Act and applicable standards and regulations, it would have lessened the chances of — and possibly could have prevented — the UBB explosion,” says the report, which was first posted online by Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward. The Labor Department released the report Friday evening.

The report — which was requested by Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis — puts the focus on MSHA’s leadership, which only recently issued its own internal review blaming Massey Energy and mistakes by low-level inspectors. But MSHA did not place responsibility on senior officials in the agency, which is led by a former mine workers’ union leader, Assistant Secretary of Labor Joe Main.

The new report says that while it agreed Massey had caused the explosion, the MSHA review’s “characterization of the facts underlying this conclusion understates the role that MSHA’s enforcement could have had in preventing the explosion.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 March 2012 at 11:34 am

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