• Information Date:
  • Agreement Agency:
    Department of Energy (DOE)

Memorandum of Understanding
The U.S. Department of Labor
The U.S. Department of Energy

I. Purpose:

The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is to evaluate the possible transition from internal DOE oversight of occupational safety and health matters involving private-sector employees at DOE Government-Owned Contractor-Operated (GOCO) facilities to external enforcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a DOL agency. This MOU identifies a specific project to be carried out in accordance with the terms of the August 10, 1992, DOL/DOE MOU.

II. Background:

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970 (P.L. 91-596) grants OSHA the authority to prescribe and enforce standards or regulations affecting the occupational safety and health of private-sector employees. However, Section 4(b)(1) of the Act waives OSHA's jurisdiction in cases where another Federal agency has exercised its statutory authority to prescribe or enforce occupational safety and health standards. Relying on this section of the Act, DOL, in 1974, explicitly recognized the Atomic Energy Commissions (AEC's) authority to establish and enforce occupational safety and health standards at AEC-sponsored contractor facilities. Subsequently, DOL and DOE, the successor agency to the AEC, acknowledged this agreement in the August 10, 1992, MOU between the two Departments. As specified in the original agreement and in the 1992 MOU, this DOE exemption from OSHA enforcement has applied only to those GOCO facilities for which DOE exercises its statutory authority pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954; OSHA has exercised enforcement authority over all other DOE facilities.

In the 20 years that have intervened since the signing of the original 1974 agreement, DOE has exercised its authority over working conditions at its GOCO facilities by developing and promulgating DOE Orders and conducting an extensive program of internal oversight at these facilities. In May 1993, however, Secretary O'Leary announced that DOE would immediately begin the process of shifting from internal oversight of occupational safety and health to external enforcement by OSHA.

III. Scope:

DOE and OSHA will work together to explore, identify, and develop strategies to facilitate a seamless transition from internal DOE oversight to external OSHA enforcement of occupational safety and health on DOE GOCO facilities. This cooperative effort will continue to protect the safety and health of DOE contractor workers and will build upon the lessons learned from the recent transfer of the Gaseous Diffusion Plants in Kentucky and Ohio from DOE oversight to OSHA enforcement. To accomplish these mutual goals, the parties agree that:

A. The DOE Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health and the DOL Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, or their designee, will conduct quarterly interface meetings to facilitate and coordinate efforts performed under this MOU. The frequency of these meetings may be altered by either party as necessary,

B. DOE will provide and appropriately fund training, briefings, site orientation visits, and other opportunities, as appropriate, for OSHA personnel to become familiar with DOE GOCO facilities and operations.

C. DOE will assist OSHA in and provide the necessary funding for a task force to study the possible transition to OSHA enforcement. OSHA and DOE will develop and implement a statement of work for the study outlining the goals, objectives, and intended focus of the study as well as the respective contributions of both parties. In the performance of the study, DOE and OSHA will solicit and consider input from stakeholders (e.g., labor unions, DOE contractors) on all aspects of the proposed transition to OSHA enforcement. DOE input to the study may include, but is not limited to, providing assistance in the following areas:

- an inventory of DOE facilities and identification of the types of hazards likely to be found at each of these facilities;

- the development of a transition schedule for OSHA if it were to assume enforcement authority over working conditions at DOE GOCO facilities;

- an examination of DOE's current occupational safety and health program and the role that this corporate program could assume if there is a transition to OSHA enforcement;

- identification and consideration of recent occupational safety and health program improvements within the DOE community such as the establishment of safety and health committees;

- an examination of lessons learned from OSHA special emphasis programs and existing DOE external enforcement activities (e.g., transfer of the gaseous diffusions plants to OSHA enforcement, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement activities; OSHA enforcement of worker protection matters on non-exempt DOE facilities), as well as the future findings of the Advisory Committee on External Regulation of DOE Nuclear Safety;

- an examination of the worker protection-related roles of other external enforcement activities and clarification of institutional relations between: OSHA and DOE; DOE and its management and operating (M&O) contractors; M&O contractors and subcontractors; and between Federal, State and Tribal jurisdictions;

- an investigation of the additional resources required by OSHA if it were to assume the transferred regulatory and enforcement authority and of the external costs associated with maintaining regulatory and enforcement authority within DOE.

D. Upon completion of the study, appropriate representatives of DOL and DOE will prepare and provide to the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Energy, a report that examines advantages and disadvantages of a possible transfer of DOE oversight to OSHA enforcement. Following review of this report by both Departments. representatives of DOL and DOE will decide what, if any, additional action(s) should be considered in further exploring a transition of enforcement responsibility.

IV. Working Arrangements

A. Funding: Each agency shall incur all costs of salaries, benefits, and other direct or indirect costs involved in the assignment of their personnel to implement the terms of this agreement. Specific costs associated with tile independent task force study shall be incurred by DOE.

B. Work and transfer of funds under this agreement shall be performed in accordance with the working arrangements specified in the 1992 MOU.

V. Effective Date, Amendment, and Termination:

This agreement is effective from the date of final signature. It may be modified or amended by formal written notice from either party if there is joint agreement on the proposed modification as evidenced by the signatures of designated officials representing both parties. Any amendment(s) are effective as of the date of the final signature.

This agreement may be terminated by either party upon 30 days written notice to the other, or upon completion of the study concerning the possible transfer of DOE safety and health oversight to OSHA enforcement at specified DOE GOCO sites.

The following signatures constitute-acceptance of this agreement by the Department of Labor and the Department of Energy:

U.S Department of Labor
The Occupational Safety
and Health Administration

Joseph A. Dear
Assistant Secretary
Occupational Safety and
Health Administration

Date: June 19, 1995

U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Environment, Safety
and Health
Tara O'Toole,
Assistant Secretary
Environment, Safety and Health

Date: June 19, 1995