Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on U.S. Department of Labor's Risk Assessment Procedures Published in Federal Register

Saturday, August 30, 2008 General News
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 The U.S. Department ofLabor proposes to establish consistent procedures to allow the public to seeexactly what goes into agency risk assessments. Published today in theFederal Register, the proposalwill ensure that the best and latest available evidence and scientific dataare used when conducting risk assessments for health standards regulatingoccupational exposure to toxins in accordance with the Occupational Safety andHealth Act and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act.

This proposal impacts only internal agency procedures and imposes noadditional regulation on stakeholders. Although not required, the departmentis nonetheless seeking public input on the proposal for 30 days.

Currently, the department does not have comprehensive regulations orformal internal guidance outlining consistent risk assessment procedures. Theproposed regulation implements recommendations of a 1997presidential/congressional commission that criticized the department forrelying on "a case-by-case approach for performing risk assessment and riskcharacterization," and recommended that the department explain its scientificand policy defaults with regard to risk assessment.

The proposal will compile the Labor Department's existing practices into asingle, easy to reference public regulation and includes:

The proposal gives the department's scientists and technical experts thenecessary latitude to exercise their professional discretion and to modifytheir assessments as science evolves, while ensuring that the department'sprocess is fully accountable and transparent to the public.

Finally, the ANPRM process is not new. OSHA has included an ANPRM in thelast three health standards it promulgated, including two that were startedmore than 20 years ago. This important process ensures that those responsiblefor drafting the standard have the best available scientific information toproduce a thorough and accurate risk assessment that effectively protectsworkers.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers areresponsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees.OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men andwomen by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach andeducation; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual processimprovement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit

U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at The information in this news release will be madeavailable in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) fromthe COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placingyour request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department iscommitted to providing America's employers and employees with easy access tounderstandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations.For more information, please visit Issuance of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in order to cast a wide net for available information from the public. -- Collection of the best available scientific data for the agency to consider, including industry-by-industry exposure data where available. -- Electronic posting of all documents related to a health standard rulemaking to promote greater public input, awareness and transparency of the information underlying the department's health rulemakings.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Labor

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