New regs for Thursday: Mariners, bicycle helmets, Ukraine sanctions

Thursday's edition of the Federal Register contains new rules for merchant mariners, government researchers, bicycle helmets, and Ukrainian sanctions.

Here's what is happening:

Ships: The Coast Guard is moving forward with new rules for credentialing merchant mariners.

The new rules align the Coast Guard's procedures with changes to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers. 

The rules go into effect immediately.

Safety: The Coast Guard is looking at new occupational health and safety rules that would protect merchant mariners.

In response to a petition from the National Mariner's Association (NMA), the Coast Guard is considering whether it can do more to protect these seafarers, after the NMA blamed the agency for not doing enough.

The NMA is calling on the Coast Guard to enforce more stringent workplace safety standards that are comparable to standards from the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the group says in the petition. The NMA filed the petition last November.

"The petitioner identifies several workplace related safety and health issues where the petitioner has determined that merchant mariners are not currently protected," the Coast Guard wrote. 

The public has 90 days to comment.

Records: The Department of Defense (DOD) is considering new rules for government researchers who need access to DOD files. 

The proposed rule changes the procedures for granting access to DOD files to former cabinet-level officials and presidential appointees and their staff for the purpose of historical research.

The rule clarifies certain Defense Department exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act to protect classified information. The rule also establishes procedures for copying these documents.

The public has 60 days to comment.

Ukraine: The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing new Ukraine-related sanctions against people who are contributing to the unrest in that country.

The OFAC announced Wednesday it is implementing several executive orders freezing the assets of certain people that the Obama administration believes are making the situation worse in Ukraine. 

The rule goes into effect immediately.

Helmets: The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is considering changes to the safety standard for bicycle helmets, which were originally issued in 1998.

The rules would affect about 30 manufacturers that produce an estimated 200 models of bicycle helmets each year, the agency estimated.

The public has 60 days to comment.