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Rules imposed on OSHA hinder agency: report

October 26, 2011

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Washington – Every branch of the federal government has played a hand in slowing down OSHA’s rulemaking process, claims a new report (.pdf file) from advocacy group Public Citizen. According to the report, fewer regulations have been issued in the past 10 years than any other decade of OSHA’s existence.

“While OSHA was once able to develop a rule in less than a year, the process now exceeds six years on average,” the report stated, claiming that 100,000 serious injuries and 30,000 illnesses could have been prevented if the delays were eliminated.

The report singles out Congress and presidential administrations for passing laws that impose “onerous” steps for OSHA in completing rules. Federal courts also have placed a burden on OSHA by requiring the agency to prove a “significant risk” for each hazard it wants to regulate, but the courts did not explain how extensive the risk analyses need to be. This has resulted in OSHA taking a “very cautious” approach in its rule development, Public Citizen stated.

Due to the various requirements, OSHA is inadequately protecting workers from various hazards, including toxic chemicals, heat stress, repetitive use injuries and workplace violation, according to Justin Feldman, Public Citizen’s worker health and safety advocate and author of the report.

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