- Information Date:10/27/1983
- Agreement Agency:National Bureau of Standards (NBS)
Memorandum of Understanding
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Department of Labor
The National Bureau of Standards
Department of Commerce
Whereas it is recognized that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the statutory authority to develop and promulgate occupational safety and health standards; develop and issue regulations; conduct investigations and inspections to determine the status of compliance with safety and health standards and regulations; and issue citations for noncompliance with safety and health standards and regulations; and
Whereas it is recognized by statute, P.L. 91-596, section 7(c)(1), the services, facilities, and personnel of any Federal agency may be used to assist OSHA in carrying out its responsibilities; and
Whereas it is recognized that the professional and laboratory capabilities of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) are capable of furnishing required technical assistance to assist OSHA in carrying out its statutory responsibilities; and
Whereas NBS, as a Government research laboratory, is authorized to provide technical assistance to other Federal agencies; and
Whereas it is recognized that NBS conducts research and provides: (1) a basis for the Nation's physical measurement system, (2) scientific and technological services for industry and government, (3) a technical basis for equity in trade, (4) technical services to promote public safety, and (5) technical information services; and
Whereas NBS, working primarily through the Center for Building Technology has already demonstrated through the performance of various tasks an ability to render technical assistance to OSHA in carrying out its statutory responsibility;
It is resolved that:
NBS will furnish technical assistance and perform research for OSHA. Such technical services will generally included but not be limited to:
- Providing technical support to OSHA, for the development of safety and health standards;
- Conducting scientific and technical investigations concerning construction failures and disasters that are under the jurisdiction of OSHA;
- Providing technical support in the development of measurement and monitoring techniques and associated devices;
- Furnishing direct technical support to OSHA, in connection with the activities of its standards advisory committees;
- Providing technical support services to OSHA, concerning workplace emergency situations that may arise; and
- Providing other technical support services to OSHA on an ad hoc basis.
The purpose of the cooperative effort sought under this Memorandum of Understanding is to make available the scientific research and technological resources of NBS for the purposes of assisting OSHA in carrying out its responsibilities.
To implement this Memorandum of Understanding, a working arrangement between the respective organizations shall be constituted to delineate, with mutual agreement by both agencies, assigned tasks to be carried out by NBS in support of OSHA's activities. Such task assignments will be initiated as the need arises and will be supported by OSHA, and will be considered to be a use of Federal services, facilities and personnel consistent with language in 7(c)(1) of Public Law 91- 596. All research reports prepared under this Memorandum of Understanding will be made directly to OSHA and made available to the public. Other reports, such as failure and fatality investigations, will be released only upon the receipt of specific authorization from OSHA.
The Director, Directorate of Technical Support, OSHA and the Director, Center for Building Technology, NBS, shall be responsible for implementing this Memorandum of Understanding.
As the responsible party in OSHA for implementing this Memorandum, the Director of Technical Support shall coordinate all of OSHA's requests for assistance from NBS. As the responsible party in NBS for implementing this Memorandum of Understanding, the Director of the Center for Building Technology shall coordinate the availability, consistent with NBS program priorities, of all appropriate parts of NBS to meet OSHA's technical needs.
This Memorandum of Understanding will become effective on the date of the last signature. This Memorandum of Understanding supersedes the Interagency Understanding between OSHA and NBS dated October 9, 1973.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
DATE: OCTOBER 27, 1983
NATIONAL BUREAU OF STANDARDS
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
DATE: OCTOBER 5, 1983
(see next page)
October 27, 1983
Dr. Ernest Ambler
National Bureau of Standards
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. 20234
Dear Dr. Ambler:
This is in response to your letter of October 5, 1983, in which you enclosed for my signature a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As you requested, I have signed both copies of the MOU; one copy is returned to you with this letter.
We note that the revised agreement contains new language, not reviewed by OSHA before, concerning the release of information about projects undertaken for OSHA by NBS. The new language state that "(other) reports, such as failure and fatality investigations, will be released only upon the receipt of specific authorization from OSHA."
We interpret this new language to exclude NBS's verbal release of information, as well as its release of written documents, without OSHA's consent. We also assume that the phrase "failure and fatality investigations" as used here is intended only to exemplify the type of information which would not be divulged without prior authorization from OSHA and that NBS would receive clearance from OSHA before releasing information about any technical support projects which relate to OSHA enforcement activities.
Furthermore, it is our understanding that the term "reports" as used in the new language of the MOU refers not only to final documents prepared for OSHA by NBS, but also to all information which is obtained by NBS in performing investigations for OSHA. In addition, it should be recognized that the terms of this agreement and the interpretations enumerated here, would apply to projects performed by NBS for OSHA on behalf of those states which operate their own occupational safety and health programs under the provisions of section 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
We believe that these interpretations are necessary to avoid the possibility of premature release of information. Such action could jeopardize OSHA's enforcement activities since the subjects of NBS's investigations for OSHA are frequently under litigation. If these interpretations are unacceptable to you, we may need to renegotiate the terms of the MOU. In any event, future task orders developed under this MOU will clearly define what information may or may not be released.
Thank you for the assistance your organization has provided OSHA. I look forward to our continued cooperation under the revised agreement.
Thorne G. Auchter