• Information Date:
  • Agreement Agency:
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Memorandum of Understanding
The U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Enforcement

I. Purpose

The purpose of this interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to establish and improve the working relationship between the Office of Enforcement of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor. The goals of the agencies are to improve the combined efforts of the agencies to achieve protection of workers, the public, and the environment at facilities subject to EPA and OSHA jurisdiction; to delineate the general areas of responsibility of each agency; to provide guidelines for coordination of interface activities between the two agencies with the overall goal of identifying and minimizing environmental or workplace hazards.

This MOU establishes a process and framework for notification, consultation and coordination between EPA and OSHA to aid both agencies in identifying environmental and workplace health and safety problems and to more effectively implement enforcement of our national workplace and environmental statutes.

This MOU is intended to improve the information exchange relating to job-site safety and health, protection of the public health and environment thereby reducing the potential for workplace related injury, death, and environmental contamination. This MOU implements OSHA's authority under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) and EPA's general and statute-specific authorities to enter into agreements with other federal agencies to further the legislative objectives of Congress and the President.

II. Background & Responsibilities

EPA and OSHA have the statutory responsibility to ensure the safety and health of the public and America's workforce through the timely and effective implementation of a number of federal laws and implementing regulations. In some areas, the responsibilities of the agencies are separate and distinct. In others, they are complementary. EPA and OSHA wish to work together to maximize the efforts of both agencies to ensure the efficient and effective protection of workers, the public, and the environment.

A. EPA Responsibilities

EPA responsibilities include the protection of public health and the environment by assuring compliance with federal environmental statutes and regulations. Agency functions are performed through standards setting and rulemaking; technical reviews; audits and studies; conduct of public hearings; issuance of permits and licenses; compliance inspections; investigations and enforcement; and evaluation of operating experience and research.

B. OSHA Responsibilities

OSHA is responsible for enforcing the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 651 et. seq. The goal of the OSH Act is to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the nation safe and healthful working conditions. To achieve that purpose, the Act provides broad authority for a variety of activities and programs designed to reduce the number of occupational safety and health hazards at places of employment. Among these is the authority to promulgate mandatory safety and health standards for private sector workplaces, and to conduct inspections of such workplaces to determine compliance with the Act and with OSHA standards. When violations are found, OSHA is authorized to issue citations to employers, propose penalties, and require abatement of hazards. In cases involving imminent dangers, OSHA is authorized to seek injunctive relief in U.S. District Court. In states which have elected to administer State occupational safety and health programs, or "State plans," the Act requires OSHA to conduct a continuing evaluation of State operations and, in certain circumstances, to provide a program of concurrent federal OSHA enforcement.

C. Applicable Statutes

Under the OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. 651, every employer has a general duty, under section 5(a)(1), to furnish employment and a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or likely to cause, serious physical harm. Every employer is also required, under section 5(a)(2), to comply with occupational safety and health standards promulgated by OSHA. In addition, employers must comply with regulations prescribed by OSHA under section 8 of the Act, which pertains to the conduct of workplace inspections among other things, and must furnish such records and other information as may be requested under section 24 of the Act.

Principal EPA laws include but are not limited to:

The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act;

15 U.S.C. 2641; governing the removal of asbestos.

The Clean Air Act;

42 U.S.C. Sections 7401 to 7642; governing the release of air pollutants.

The Clean Water Act;

33 U.S.C. 1251 to 1387; governing the pre-treatment and release of pollutants to water.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act;

42 U.S.C. Sections 9601 to 9675; governing the release of hazardous substances and the abatement of toxic and hazardous waste sites.

The Emergency Planning & Community-Right-To-Know Act;

42 U.S.C. Sections 11001 to 11050; governing the storage, use and disposal of toxic and hazardous chemicals, including the reporting of accidental releases.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act;

42 U.S.C. Sections 6901 to 6992k; governing the storage and disposal of hazardous wastes.

The Safe Drinking Water Act;

42 U.S.C. Sections 300f to 300j-26; governing the treatment and distribution of potable water.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act;

7 U.S.C. Sections 136 to 136y; governing the manufacture and use of toxic and hazardous chemicals used for pest control.

The Toxic Substances Control Act;

15 U.S.C. Sections 2601 to 2671; governing the manufacture, use, distribution in commerce and disposal of commercial chemicals.

The Underground Injection Control Act;

governing the disposal of toxic and hazardous waste products.

The Organotin Paint Act;

governing the use and disposal of marine paints having toxic constituents.

III. General Operating Procedures For Interagency Activity

In recognition of the agencies' statutory authorities and responsibilities enumerated above, the following procedures will be followed:


1. There will be the fullest possible cooperation and coordination between EPA and OSHA, at all organizational levels, in developing and carrying out training, data and information exchange, technical and professional assistance, referrals of alleged violations, and related matters concerning compliance and law enforcement activity to ensure the health and well-being of the Nation's workforce, the general public, and the environment.

2. By January 1, 1991, and by the beginning of each succeeding fiscal year, EPA and OSHA will develop an annual workplan to identify and define the priorities to be addressed during the year. This workplan will include an identification of specific types of facilities to be jointly addressed during the year.

3. EPA and OSHA will exchange names and phone numbers of appropriate agency headquarters, regional and field personnel, including personnel in OSHA area offices, and in state program offices. All information will be kept up to date by both agencies. Each EPA and OSHA Regional Office will designate a point of contact for carrying out interface activities. Each agency agrees to prepare and distribute to all field personnel a suitable directive outlining a policy concerning the effective implementation of this MOU, and to identify appropriate points of contact. In order to aid in the enforcement and issue-referral process, the agencies will update this information as the need arises and will ensure that managers and field personnel are provided with a copy of this MOU and the relevant directive.

4. Resolution of interagency policy issues concerning this MOU and specific areas of implementation will be coordinated between EPA's Office of Enforcement and OSHA's Directorate of Policy. Resolution of issues concerning inspection and enforcement activity involving both EPA and OSHA jurisdiction also will be coordinated by EPA's Office of Enforcement and OSHA's Directorate of Policy.


1. EPA and OSHA may conduct joint inspections as necessary to carry out the legislative purposes of the respective statutory authorities. Such inspections may be in accordance with an annual workplan which is developed by the two agencies and identifies areas for joint initiatives. Such inspections may also be scheduled on an ad hoc basis such as in investigations following accidents or fatalities or injuries to workers resulting from reported activities or situations subject to either EPA OR OSHA jurisdiction.

2. EPA and OSHA inspectors, in the course of conducting separate inspections, may discover situations involving potential violations of the other agency's laws or regulations. In those instances, referrals to the appropriate office will be undertaken as described below.


1. For law enforcement purposes, OSHA and EPA shall develop a regular system to track and manage referrals of potential violations, allegations of violations, or situations requiring inspection, evaluation or followup by either Agency, as appropriate.

2. Although EPA does not conduct inspections for occupational safety, in the course of an EPA inspection, EPA personnel may identify safety concerns within the area of OSHA responsibility or may receive complaints about the safety or health of employees related to their working conditions. In such instances, EPA will bring the matter to the attention of OSHA designated contacts in the Regional Office. EPA inspectors are not to perform the role of OSHA inspectors; however, they will refer worker health and safety issues to OSHA pursuant to the procedures set forth in this MOU and implementing agency directives. In the case of worker complaints, EPA will disclose the name of individuals to OSHA but will not further disclose the name and the identity of the employee. When such instances occur within OSHA State-plan States' jurisdiction, the OSHA Regional Office will refer the matter to the State for appropriate action.

3. OSHA will inform the EPA Regional Administrator or appropriate EPA office of matters which appear to be subject to EPA jurisdiction when these come to their attention during Federal or State safety and health inspections or through worker complaints. Although not exhaustive, the following are examples of matters that would be reported to the EPA:

a. Worker allegations of significant adverse reactions to a chemical or chemical substance which poses a potential hazard to public health or the environment.

b. Accidental, unpermitted, or deliberate releases of chemicals or chemical substances beyond the workplace.

c. Unsafe handling, storage, or use practices involving chemicals, chemical substances, or waste materials in apparent violation of EPA-administered laws.

d. Other readily detectible potential violations of EPA- administered laws, such as by-passing treatment systems.

e. Asbestos dispersal or contamination affecting the public or the environment.

4. EPA shall respond to referrals from OSHA, and OSHA shall respond to referrals from EPA, concerning potential violations of the other agency's requirements, when appropriate, by conducting investigations in a timely manner. Referrals shall be evaluated and appropriate action will be taken.

5. OSHA will work to facilitate referrals of potential violations of EPA regulations to EPA and will encourage the relevant State agencies in those States which operate their own occupational safety and health programs (under a plan approved by OSHA under Section 18 of the OSH Act) also to make such referrals. EPA will work to facilitate referrals to OSHA or OSHA State-plan States of potential violations of occupational health and safety standards or regulations discovered by federal or state environmental inspection activities.

6. EPA and OSHA will conduct periodic meetings, as necessary, to report on the progress of actions taken on the other agency's referrals and to evaluate the effectiveness of the referral system and operating procedures. Both agencies agree to establish a system to monitor the progress of actions taken on referrals.

7. OSHA will encourage State-plan States to respond to referrals from EPA and State agencies concerning potential violations of the States' occupational safety and health standards or regulations by conducting investigations in a timely manner. OSHA will further encourage State-plan States to participate in all training and information-sharing activities established under this MOU.


EPA and OSHA agree to exchange information relating to complaints, inspections of investigations, violations discovered, imposition of civil monetary penalties, or other legal actions taken to enforce pertinent laws and regulations, and all other information necessary to ensure effective and coordinated law enforcement. This MOU contemplates data exchange through both hard copy and computer data bases, in accordance with procedures to be established in a separate agreement.


EPA and OSHA will cooperate in developing and conducting periodic training programs for each other's personnel in the respective laws, regulations, and compliance requirements of each agency, as appropriate, to ensure that valid referrals are made when potential violations are found and to support joint enforcement and inspection initiatives. This MOU contemplates exchanges of appropriate training materials and information and development of specialized training activities in accordance with procedures to be established in a separate agreement.

IV. Period of Agreement

This MOU shall continue in effect unless modified in writing by mutual consent of both parties or terminated by either party upon 30 days advance written notice to the other.

This MOU does not preclude either Agency from entering into separate agreements setting forth procedures for other special programs which can be addressed more efficiently and expeditiously by special agreement.

V. Implementation

Nothing in this Agreement is intended to diminish or other-wise affect the authority of either agency to implement its respective statutory function. This Agreement is effective upon signature by both parties.

U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety & Health

Gerard F. Scannell
Assistant Secretary

Elizabeth Dole
Secretary of Labor

NOV 23 1990

Office of Enforcement

James M. Strock
Assistant Administrator

William K. Reilly

NOV 23 1990