OSHA, NIOSH collaboration could help streamline rulemaking, GAO says

April 25, 2012

Washington – OSHA and NIOSH working together more consistently on occupational hazard research could help streamline the standards development process, the Government Accountability Office suggests.

In an April 19 report (.pdf file) examining the length of time it takes OSHA to issue standards, GAO found that during a 30-year period, the time from standard development to issuance varied from 15 months to 19 years. Standards took an average of more than seven years to be issued, the report states, and fewer standards were issued in the past 10 years than in the 20 years previous.

According to GAO, some of the reasons that lengthen the process include increased number of procedural requirements, the agency’s shifting priorities, the standard of judicial review, and court decisions.

Both NIOSH and OSHA agreed with the recommendation to improve collaboration – GAO’s sole suggestion. During a related April 19 Senate committee hearing, some stakeholders expressed disappointment in GAO’s limited recommendations.

But GAO Director of Education, Workforce and Income Security Revae Moran testified (.pdf file) that many other suggestions to shorten the rulemaking process might limit consideration of stakeholder concerns, or would require “substantive” procedural or legislative changes.