Rely on Occupational Safety & Health ReporterSM for full news coverage and documentation of federal and state workplace safety and health programs, standards, legislation,...
Democratic senators are calling for the Department of Labor’s inspector general to launch an inquiry into recent DOL decisions to delay implementation of the silica and beryllium rules approved during the Obama administration, and to issue fewer press releases covering enforcement cases.
“We are deeply concerned by the delay of these rules,” the senators, all members of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said in the May 18 letter to DOL Inspector General Scott Dahl.
The senators said the department didn’t offer “substantive rationalization of the delays,” raising questions about the reasons for the postponements and whether the Trump administration’s DOL leadership intends to fully implement the rules.
The drafting of both rules by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration included lengthy reviews of scientific evidence and public comment periods, the lawmakers said.
As for the press release issue, the senators want the inspector general to identify why the agency no longer issues press releases for a large number of OSHA inspections resulting in proposed fines of $40,000 or more, as was done under the Obama administration, and what the role of the White House and others is in changing the policy.
Numerous employer groups had called for the Trump administration to curtail inspection press releases, saying that OSHA used the releases to shame employers and didn’t acknowledge when judges dismissed violations. The agency has continued to update a list of inspections with proposed fines of at least $40,000.
The senators also want the inspector general to determine if there have been other DOL policy changes related to disclosing violations of federal rules and laws.
DOL is currently drafting a proposed rule to revise the beryllium rule (RIN:1218-AB76), primarily intended to protect workers from breathing in metal dust and suffering lung disease.
One issue with the rule is whether the Obama administration’s OSHA erred by proposing beryllium standards for the construction and maritime industries, rather than only a general industry standard as proposed in 2015.
The deadline for construction companies to comply with the silica rule is delayed 90 days, with a new deadline of Sept. 23.
The standard (RIN:1218-AB70) sets a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for airborne crystalline silica of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (50 μg/m3) for general industry, construction and maritime employers. The new PEL is 80 percent less than the old construction standard of 250 μg/m3.
About 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica in workplaces, according to OSHA, and of those, about 940,000 are exposed to silica levels exceeding the new standard. OSHA estimates the lower PEL will prevent 642 deaths annually and 918 moderate to severe silicosis cases.
Signing the letter were Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Al Franken (Minn.), Robert Casey (Penn.) and Christopher Murphy (Conn.), and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bna.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Connolly at PConnolly@bna.com
The letter is available at http://src.bna.com/o2r.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)