Risk Management Proposal Withdrawn

DOL agreed with critics who said the proposal to have OSHA and MSHA issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking whenever they develop a health standard for toxic substances or hazardous chemicals is unnecessary and adds delay.

The U.S. Department of Labor formally withdrew the proposed rule issued during the final months of George W. Bush's presidency that sought to standardize OSHA and MSHA assessments of occupational health risks. Public health groups and professional OSH associations criticized the proposal, and the election of President Barack Obama seemed certain to derail it. The withdrawal took effect Monday.

Published Aug. 29, 2008, the proposed rule asked for comments on 1) a new requirement that DOL agencies issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking whenever they develop a health standard that would regulate workplace exposure to toxic substances or hazardous chemicals; and 2) a requirement that DOL agencies electronically post all documents relied on to develop such health standards within 14 days of each regulatory step. DOL said it received comments from members of Congress, private citizens, labor unions, worker advocacy organizations, industry associations, employer groups, and risk assessment experts. Most of the comments opposed the rule for reasons that DOL endorsed in its withdrawal notice, which was published in Monday's Federal Register.

DOL said both proposed requirements are unnecessary, and the ANPRM process would needlessly delay the enactment of health standards. "Moreover, given the nature of the issues, the Department believes that it is more useful to continue describing its internal risk assessment policies through guidance rather than through promulgation of a regulation," its notice said. "The current policy of both OSHA and MSHA is to publish an ANPRM only if the agency believes it will be beneficial to the rulemaking. This decision is made on a case-by-case basis. In light of the comments to the proposal and after reconsideration of the proposed ANPRM requirement, the Department has determined that OSHA and MSHA should continue to follow their current ANPRM policy."

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