News Release USDL: 96-253
Thursday, June 27, 1996
Contact: Stephen Gaskill (202) 219-6091
OSHA Chief Lauds "Negotiated Rulemaking" As A Way To Cut Red
Tape And Bureaucracy
Joseph A. Dear, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and
Health (OSHA), testified today that negotiated rulemaking has helped the
regulatory agency develop partnerships among adversaries and cut through
red tape. Negotiated Rulemaking Act (NRA) is being reviewed by the
House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law
for possible reauthorization.
"Negotiated rulemaking is a core component of OSHA's effort to reinvent
itself," Dear said. "Our goals are focusing on results, cutting red tape, and
developing partnerships with those we regulate. Neg/reg meets all
Dear told the Subcommittee that neg/reg helped OSHA develop protections
for workers engaged in steel erection. Although it employs only five percent
of the workforce, construction accounts for more than 20 percent of the
occupational fatalities occurring annually; approximately one-third result
from falls from high places. Among construction workers, those erecting
steel structures are most at risk.
OSHA formed the Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory
Committee (SENRAC), which consisted of, among others, the Ironworkers
International, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Associated
Builders and Contractors, the National Erectors Association, the United
Steelworkers of America, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety
and Health (NIOSH). Essentially, all parties with a vested interest in this
rulemaking were able to participate at Committee and workgroup meetings.
Over an 18-month period, SENRAC met 11 times to hammer out
longstanding differences that, until negotiated rulemaking, could not
be resolved. The flexibility of neg/reg allowed the committee to consider
needs of all elements of the industry. OSHA staff are presently preparing
a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) based on the SENRAC's
consensus text, which OSHA hopes to publish by the end of this calendar
Dear also told the subcommittee that rulemaking is advantageous only
when all interests in a particular rulemaking are represented. Otherwise,
he said, "there is almost a guarantee that the final rule will end up in litigation.
The legal process can take years to run its course, and already tight resources,
which could be used for other purposes, are spent on litigation costs. Workers
continue to be injured in the interim."
Dear noted that not all rules are suitable for negotiated rulemaking, but
if a determination is made that public interest is better served through
neg/reg, an agency should not be reluctant to use the process.
As another indication of OSHA's commitment to the process, the agency
this month published a Notice of Intent to Form Negotiated Rulemaking
Advisory Committee to Develop a Proposal Rule on Fire Protection in
Shipyard Employment in the Federal Register. The Committee will include
about 15 members representing such significantly affected interests as
shipyard owner, contractors, labor organizations representing employees
who perform fire protection work, firefighters (both in-yard/plant and
municipal), government entities, professional associations, and manufacturers
and suppliers of fire protection equipment. OSHA will also seek public
comment on whether additional interests should be included.