Biden nominates Christopher Williamson to head MSHA

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Photo property of MSHA
Washington — President Joe Biden has nominated Christopher Williamson to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

If confirmed, Williamson, senior counsel to National Labor Relations Board Chair Lauren McFerran, would take over for acting administrator Jeannette Galanis. Former coal industry executive David Zatezalo was the agency’s most recent Senate-confirmed leader, serving from November 2017 until this past January.

According to a Nov. 12 White House press release, Williamson, a native of West Virginia, worked at MSHA during the Obama administration, advising the assistant secretary on agency policy, operations and communications. He also served as labor counsel to former Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) and as a legislative assistant to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“As labor counsel, he advised Chairman Harkin and committee members on labor, occupational and mine safety and health, and black lung benefits and other workers’ compensation issues,” the release states.

Before that, Williamson was an attorney-advisor for Administration Law Judge Jacqueline Bulluck at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. He earned his law degree from West Virginia University.

Williamson likely will appear before the Senate HELP Committee for a confirmation hearing. At press time, no date had been set.

In a statement released Nov. 12, United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts urges the Senate to confirm Williamson’s nomination as soon as possible.

“Chris Williamson is the most knowledgeable expert on mine safety and health in Washington today,” Roberts said. “His in-depth understanding of what it takes to keep miners safer and healthier at work is unmatched, and I expect that the Mine Safety and Health Administration will be a stronger advocate for miners under his watch.

“Chris comes from a mining background in West Virginia. Making sure that miners come home safely to their families each and every day is part of his very being.”

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

US Department of Labor seeking nominations for newly reestablished Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health

First published by OSHA

Advises Secretary on workplace safety for federal workers

The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking nominations for membership for the newly reestablished Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health, which advises the Secretary of Labor on all matters relating to the occupational safety and health of federal employees.

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh reauthorized the council’s two-year charter on Oct. 1, 2021, to begin the process of reestablishing the 16-member council. Specifically, its members advise the Secretary on how to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses in the federal workforce, and how to encourage each federal Executive Branch department and agency to establish and maintain effective occupational safety and health programs.

The department is committed to equal opportunity in the workplace and seeks broad-based and diverse council members. By charter, eight members will represent management in federal departments and agencies, and eight members will represent federal employees. The Secretary appoints members for staggered terms of up to three years and may appoint some members to successive terms. The council meets at least twice a year.

Read the Federal Register notice for submission instructions. Submit nominations electronically, and refer to Docket No. OSHA-2021-0010 at, the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Submit nominations by Nov. 1, 2021. OSHA anticipates filling all vacancies by December 2021.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Jim Mullen to exit as acting head of FMCSA


Photo: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Washington — Jim Mullen will step down as acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at the end of August, a Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed Aug. 17.

The former chief counsel for the agency, Mullen assumed the role of acting administrator in October after Raymond Martinez resigned from his post as FMCSA administrator after almost two years. He now oversees construction of DOT’s redeveloping John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA.

“At the end of the month, Jim Mullen will be leaving the department,” a DOT spokesperson told Safety+Health. “We greatly appreciate Jim’s service and the work he has done for our country.”

The spokesperson confirmed that former FMCSA Director of Government Affairs Wiley Deck, now a senior policy advisor to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, will succeed Mullen as deputy administrator.

During Mullen’s tenure, FMCSA fully implemented its Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and unveiled a highly anticipated final rule the agency claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment

Safety Leadership: Your brain on Zoom

Editor’s Note: Achieving and sustaining an injury-free workplace demands strong leadership. In this monthly column, experts from global consulting firm DEKRA Organizational Safety and Reliability share their point of view on what leaders need to know to guide their organizations to safety excellence.

A lot of us have frequently used virtual meetings to keep connected on important matters and with people who are important to us.

Now that it has become a primary way to work, you may find yourself feeling mentally drained as you hop from call to call, often without breaks in between.

The neuroscience of human communication tells us we’re wired to communicate for our very survival. Our social brain structures are attuned to guide us toward positive connections and are sensitive to “social errors” (cringeworthy virtual moments) we and others might make.

Part of the “brain drain” from virtual meetings comes from the cognitive loading involved in attempting to listen more intently even as audio quality fluctuates, people navigate their cameras and mute buttons, and the social brain searches for cues that indicate if the meeting is going well. These cues are abundant in face-to-face meetings through body language.

When these cues are less available on virtual calls, however, our brain works twice as hard. People who are highly skilled at “reading a room” will notice the brain drain even more when communicating virtually, as that kind of super-power becomes limited.

Although virtual meetings have many benefits, they require us to do some “brain alignment” of our meeting process to include building in some easy actions that will enhance our well-being, keep us alert and energized, and confirm relationships with others.

Here are a few suggestions for combating the “virtual brain drain” inherent in virtual meetings and presentations:

Block out break times in your calendar for the next three weeks. A 10-minute refresh break built into your schedule allows you to get up and move, grab a healthy snack and say hello to family if you’re working from home, as well as gives your brain time to change gears between one meeting and the next. If you don’t, you won’t be at your best throughout the day, as cognitive performance will suffer.

Stay hydrated. Our brains are largely water-based. Drink lots of it.

During meetings you’re leading, take a moment to ask how others on the call are doing or where they are physically – or simply tell them it’s great to see them. Purposely setting the tone for the meeting experience is important, but it gets overlooked. Instead, it often gets replaced with a frantic “Do we have everybody here?” and an unnecessary urgent tone that erodes social connection and engagement.

Explicitly ask for attention to one another’s ideas and suggestions. Share and ask questions within the meeting, especially if your meeting runs late in the day or there are distractions. Recognize those attending in time zones where it’s early morning or late at night.

Set up your screen so you can see who’s talking. Seeing everyone at once can be distracting. If you were in a live meeting, you would look to the person talking, not at all 20 people in the room.

Asking people to use their webcam makes meetings more engaging. The brain is wired to study faces and engages immediately when one appears on screen. Setting up a photo of yourself rather than the default name initials helps others when you’re not on camera as well.

For important meetings, block out time beforehand to prepare and afterward to decompress. If you’re planning meetings, give thought to how important ones could be spaced within the day or week to avoid feeling drained.

Practice with the various virtual meeting platforms if you need to use more than one. Distraction and stress can be experienced when you have to fumble to find screen share, audio controls or the record button, so practice. Also, arrive early enough to be logged in and ready to go in case technical issues show up and add to your brain drain.

Virtual meetings are an important, efficient and effective way of getting big things done across distance. Enhancing skills in virtual meeting design, as well as applying the neuroscience to make it a more natural and effective tool, are worth pursuing, especially as these meetings become more expansive within the new normal. See you on the next meeting.

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Vice President David Musgrave leads the Brain-Centric Reliability practice area at DEKRA that focuses on human performance reliability. He is a highly requested consultant and speaker who offers extensive experience in safety improvement.

Mugno withdraws from consideration as OSHA head: report

Washington – Already in its longest period without a permanent administrator, OSHA will have to wait even longer, as Scott Mugno has withdrawn from consideration as the agency’s assistant secretary of labor, according to a Bloomberg Law report published May 15.

A LinkedIn page for Scott A. Mugno was changed from “Awaiting Senate Confirmation for the Assistant Secretary of Labor” to “Nominee for the Assistant Secretary of Labor” from October 2017 to May 2019.

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