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Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on U.S. Department of Labor's Risk Assessment Procedures Published in Federal Register
Date:8/29/2008

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor proposes to establish consistent procedures to allow the public to see exactly what goes into agency risk assessments. Published today in the Federal Register http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-20179.htm, the proposal will ensure that the best and latest available evidence and scientific data are used when conducting risk assessments for health standards regulating occupational exposure to toxins in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act.

This proposal impacts only internal agency procedures and imposes no additional regulation on stakeholders. Although not required, the department is nonetheless seeking public input on the proposal for 30 days.

Currently, the department does not have comprehensive regulations or formal internal guidance outlining consistent risk assessment procedures. The proposed regulation implements recommendations of a 1997 presidential/congressional commission that criticized the department for relying on "a case-by-case approach for performing risk assessment and risk characterization," and recommended that the department explain its scientific and policy defaults with regard to risk assessment.

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

-- 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.

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

Finally, the ANPRM process is not new. OSHA has included an ANPRM in the last three health standards it promulgated, including two that were started more than 20 years ago. This important process ensures that those responsible for drafting the standard have the best available scientific information to produce a thorough and accurate risk assessment that effectively protects workers.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible 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 and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.


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SOURCE U.S. Department of Labor
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