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Background


In 1993, Secretary of Energy, Hazel O'Leary, announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) would seek external regulation of its Government-Owned Contractor-Operated sites (GOCOs) for occupational safety and health, replacing the current system of self-regulation. A DOE advisory committee subsequently recommended that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) assume jurisdiction for all worker safety and health enforcement issues at DOE sites. A report prepared by the National Academy of Public Administration reiterated and expanded on these issues. (Section 4(b)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act currently preempts OSHA enforcement at DOE GOCOs.)

Since Secretary O'Leary's initial announcement OSHA has continued to work with DOE to prepare for an orderly transition to OSHA external regulation of worker safety and health at GOCO sites. OSHA has participated in three pilot projects at the Argonne National Laboratory, two sites at the Oak Ridge DOE complex, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In May 1998, July 1999, and again in March 2000, OSHA witnesses testified before committees of the U. S. House of Representatives on the Agency's progress in moving towards external regulation of DOE sites. OSHA has identified a number of key issues for an orderly transition, including needed legislation; state plan policies; standards development; training requirements; and resources.

OSHA and DOE have developed a mutually acceptable policy to transfer occupational safety and health enforcement responsibility at privatized facilities and operations located on DOE sites. Privatized facilities and operations are located on DOE sites, but they are leased to private sector enterprises that are not conducting activities for or on behalf of DOE. In July 2000, the agencies entered into a memorandum of understanding on this subject.

In addition, OSHA and DOE also reached final agreement on a list of "non-Atomic Energy Act" sites, such as fossil fuel and power administration sites. OSHA acknowledges DOE's opinion that DOE does not have Atomic Energy Act enforcement authority at these sites and OSHA, therefore, has safety and health enforcement jurisdiction. In July 2000, OSHA published a Federal Register notice on this subject.

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