Occupational Safety and Health Administration

29 CFR Parts 1910, 1915, and 1926

[Docket No. H-049]

RIN 1218-0099

Respiratory Protection

AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Labor.

ACTION: Scheduling of a technical panel discussion on assigned protection factors as part of the pending rulemaking hearing.

SUMMARY: By this document, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announces the convening, pursuant to 29 CFR 1911.4, of a panel to discuss certain science-policy issues involved in respirator selection, focusing on the need for, and limitations of, assigning protection factors for respirators by class. This panel discussion will take place on June 15, 1995, as part of the scheduled rulemaking hearing on respiratory protection. Details on the process and procedures associated with the panel discussion are described below.

DATES: The hearing on the proposed rule will begin on June 6, 1995. The panel discussion is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on June 15, 1995.

ADDRESSES: The hearing and panel discussion will be held in the auditorium of the U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Proposal: Mr. Richard Liblong, Office of Information and Consumer Affairs, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N3647, Washington, D.C. 20210; (202) 219-8151.

Hearing: Mr. Thomas Hall, Division of Consumer Affairs, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N3649, Washington, D.C. 20210; (202) 219-8615.



On November 15, 1994, OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking on its respiratory protection standard (59 FR 58884 et seq.). The proposal is intended to update the current respirator standard to reflect changes in methodology, technology and approach related to respirator protection that have occurred since the existing respiratory protection standard was adopted in 1971.

The hearing on this proposal is scheduled to begin on June 6, 1995, (60 FR 4132 et seq.), and will last until at least until June 20, 1995. OSHA is in the process of contacting parties who have submitted notices of intention to appear at the hearing, to confirm the scheduling of their oral testimony.

Scheduling of Science-Policy Panel

OSHA has scheduled, on June 15, 1995, a panel discussion concerning technical, scientific, and policy issues surrounding the assignment of protection factors (APFs). The panel will be comprised of representatives of 6 parties invited by OSHA to participate in the discussion, as well as an OSHA representative. The panel discussion will be chaired by an additional OSHA official. Each invited party is already a participant in the rulemaking by virtue of having submitted a timely notice of intention to appear to testify and is already scheduled to provide testimony on APFs. Each invited party may choose its representative, who need not necessarily be an individual named in the notices of intention to appear at the hearings which the parties previously submitted. OSHA expects that the representatives will possess technical expertise and a willingness to exchange views in a constructive manner. The general agenda for the panel discussion consists of the issues stated below, and a more detailed agenda will be distributed during the hearing no later than June 9, 1995. Questions and brief comments to the panel from hearing participants and, to the extent time permits, from the audience, will be permitted until the Administrative Law Judge adjourns the hearing for the day on June 15, 1995.

The purpose of the panel discussion is to provide a variety of perspectives on the uncertainties surrounding the choice of APFs, so that OSHA can rely upon informed judgement if the Agency decides to set an APF for each respirator class as part of this rulemaking. Conflicting information regarding APFs is emerging in this rulemaking and warrants focused discussion. OSHA believes that additional information and viewpoints on APFs would be useful in resolving various open questions and in arriving at sensible conclusions.

OSHA contemplates that discussion topics will include: the validity of results obtained from available protection factor studies; the range of statistical uncertainty and person-to-person variability surrounding the results of these studies; correlations between study results; identification/specification of procedures and protocols that should be used in determining APFs; and science-policy issues on the role of protection factors in a required selection logic.

In choosing panel participants OSHA will attempt to include, if possible, those participants who have expressed an interest in APFs, and a willingness to exchange views on the record. It should be emphasized that the panel is a device to gather testimony; by opening the discussion to a broad range of parties and interests at once, OSHA believes that information will be tested, that views will be shared, and that the areas of uncertainty intrinsic to these issues will be crystallized. For these reasons, OSHA finds that, pursuant to 29 CFR 1911.4, "good cause" exists for scheduling this panel discussion.

The panel's discussions will be facilitated by an OSHA official who will guide the discussion to ensure that the Agency's information needs are met. Since the discussion is "on the record", and is part of the hearing procedure, the Administrative Law Judge will be the overall presiding official, consistent with 29 CFR part 1911.

Although as noted above, OSHA is organizing and selecting the makeup of the panel, all hearing participants will have the opportunity, subject to the direction and reasonable discretion of the Administrative Law Judge, to participate at appropriate intervals by making their own comments and by asking clarifying questions of participants. During the panel discussion, participants will discuss the agenda issues and not repeat their testimony provided elsewhere in the hearing. To avoid unproductive, irrelevant or repetitive questioning by panel members, hearing participants, or the public, the Administrative Law Judge will exercise discretion in disallowing such questioning.

The rest of the hearing procedures are set out in 29 CFR 1911.15- 18, in the Federal Register notices of November 15, 1994 (59 FR 58884 et seq.) and also repeated in the notice of January 20, 1995 (60 FR 4132 et seq.) or in the Administrative Law Judge's prehearing guidelines which will be sent to all persons who have filed notices of intention to appear.

Authority and Signature

This document was prepared under the direction of Joseph A. Dear, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20210. It is issued pursuant to section 6(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (84 Stat. 1593, 29 U.S.C. 655)

Signed at Washington, D.C. this 19th day of May, 1995.

Joseph A. Dear,
Assistant Secretary of Labor.

[FR Doc. 95-12876 Filed 5-24-95; 8:45 am]