Scott Mugno, Vice President for Safety, Sustainability and Vehicle Maintenance at FedEx Ground, has been nominated to be the next head of OSHA, or to give his exact title, Assistant Secretary of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health. The job has been empty since President Trump took office and the department has been pretty quiet for the last 10 months. Perhaps it is fitting that the President very quietly released the nomination last Friday, releasing the name in a group of nominees. So what do we know about Mr. Mugno?
He’s a lawyer and has been with Fed Ex since 1994, but most importantly, he appears to be a “in the trenches” safety guy. According to reports, he has been the coach for Fed Ex’s drivers who compete in the National Truck Driving Championships. This year one of Fed Ex’s drivers won the overall first prize and credited Mugno with the team’s success. From the report, Mugno comes across as someone who can communicate with front line employees and focuses on safety culture. This audio recording may give you some idea of his approach to motivation.
It is often hard to say how much impact an agency or department head will have. However, in terms of his philosophy, Scott Mugno has expressed concerns about government “over reach” on trucking regulations and the idea that many regulations should be “sunset-ed,” meaning they should have dates attached to them on which, if no one supported them, they would simply go away. He has talked a lot about the importance of rank-and-file workers supporting and valuing safety.
All of this makes him very different from the last OSHA head, David Michaels, an academic who is an epidemiologist and could come across as very reserved. At times he accused of not trusting industry without a lot of prodding.
It is also worth noting that the new head of OSHA comes from a company that is no stranger to OSHA citations. According to the Violation Tracker website, fed Ex and its affiliates have paid more than $330,000 in OSHA fines in the last 10 years or so. Remember though, that is for a company with more than 400,000 employees and 43,000 vans on the road.
Bottom Line: The next head of OSHA looks like a hands-on safety professional who has a 15-year+ track record for building safety culture communicates well with front-line employees and seems to value the actual workers in making safety programs effective. This could get interesting.