OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
May 29 1986
|MEMORANDUM FOR:||JOHN A. PENDERGRASS
OSHA EXECUTIVE STAFF
Listed below are congressional actions of interest to OSHA in the month of May.
1. On May 6, Secretary Brock testified before the House Subcommittee on Health and Safety on OSHA oversight. His testimony focused on 5 key areas: the chemical manufacturing industry; the New York Regional investigation; an overview of health standards; State OSHA programs; and a general perspective of what lies ahead for OSHA. A copy of Secretary Brock's summary statement is attached.
2. On May 9, the Senate committee on Labor and Human Resources concluded hearings on the nomination of John A. Pendergrass to become the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. In his remarks (copy attached), Mr. Pendergrass expressed his commitment to make OSHA programs operate more effectively. He stated that he would focus his attention on two areas -- standards and enforcement. In his opinion, the process for promulgating a standard is both lengthy and costly. He applauded OSHA for making progress in this area with the issuance of the Hazard Communication Standard, which he called a "major step toward protecting Americans who work with dangerous chemicals." The Committee approved Mr. Pendergrass' nomination in its next executive session on May 20, clearing it for Senate action. The Senate unanimously approved his nomination by voice vote on May 21.
3. On May 14, the House Subcommittees on Health and Safety and on Labor Standards marked up and approved a majority substitute to H.R. 1309 -- High Risk Occupational Disease Notification and Prevention Act. The bill would require the Federal Government to identify, notify and establish a system of medical surveillance for workers at high risk of occupational disease. The substitute was approved by a vote of 5 to 1 in the Safety and Health Subcommittee and 4 to 2 in the Labor Standards Subcommittee. The substitute, while similar to S. 2050 (see below), expands on the provision in the Senate version which would allow (but does not require) health insurers, local governments, or employers to assume responsibility, in lieu of the Federal Government, for identification and notification of workers at risk. Mark-up by the Education and Labor committee is scheduled for June 10.
4. On May 14, the House Subcommittee on Departmental Operations, Research and Foreign Agriculture marked up and reported out H.R. 2482, a bill to reauthorize the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The bill contains a provision which would allow OSHA to regulate the safety and health of workers engaged in operations involving pesticides even though EPA also regulates in that area. The bill would require the EPA Administrator and the Secretary of Labor to coordinate their efforts so as to avoid duplicative and conflicting regulation. At present, section 4(b)(1) of the OSH Act preempts OSHA from regulating in such instances. A provision in bills now moving to mark-up by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry sometime in mid-June would also waive this section of the OSH Act.
5. On May 15, the Senate Subcommittee on Labor held a hearing at which Pat Tyson testified on S. 2050 -- High Risk Occupational Disease Notification and Prevention Act. The bill, which is the Senate counterpart of H.R. 1309 described above, is virtually identical to the substitute approved by the House subcommittees on May 14. In his remarks, Mr. Tyson informed the Subcommittee that OSHA's existing health standards accomplish most of the immediate goals of S. 2050 and that OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard will accomplish much more than the bill contemplates with respect to notification. No further hearings on the bill are planned.
Upcoming hearings include:
1. On June 4, the House Committee on Agriculture will mark up H.R. 2482, FIFRA Amendments.
2. On June 10, the House committee on Education and Labor will mark up H.R. 1309 -- High Risk Occupational Disease Notification and Prevention Act. See item 3 on previous page for description.
3. In mid-June, the Senate committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and forestry has tentatively scheduled mark-up of FIFRA legislation. See item 4 on previous page for description.
If you have any question, contact Ruth Knight on 523-8055.