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 https://www.osha.gov.
April 24, 1987
MEMORANDUM FOR JOHN PENDERGRASS
Directorate of Technical Support
Office of Science and Technology Assessment
Supervisory Safety Engineer
Office of Science and Technology Assessment
|SUBJECT:||DOL Representation on the Interagency Committee on Seismic Safety in Construction
The National Bureau of Standards (NBS) has drafted an Executive order on Seismic Safety of Federal and Federally assisted or regulated construction. The purpose of the Executive Order is to reduce risk to the lives of occupants of buildings owned or leased by the Federal government or purchased or constructed with Federal assistance. The proposed Executive Order has been transmitted to the office of Management and Budget by the Director of FEMA on February 18, 1987. When the Order becomes final, each agency must implement its provisions.
(1) The NBS proposal for an Executive Order on Seismic Safety requires Federal preparedness and activities to be implemented to reduce the risk to life and property from future earthquakes. this is in compliance with the "Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977." These activities include development and promulgation of specifications, building standards, design criteria and construction practices for new and existing structures.
(2) The Interagency Committee on Seismic Safety in Construction (ICSSC) has completed a report entitled, "Seismic Design Guidelines for federal Buildings." The guidelines are intended for consideration and use by Federal agencies for planning, design and construction of Federally financed buildings. This is part of the President's plan to implement the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977.
(3) Initially, DOL was represented by the now retired Director of the Office of Safety and Health, Mr. Julius Hansan. In search for a substitute for Mr. Hansan to represent DOL on the Seismic Safety Committee, Mr. William McLaughlin, Director of Emergency Preparedness Planning, OASAM, requested assistance from MSHA. He received a response advising that OSHA could more properly provide the assistance needed from the Department.
(4) In a memorandum dated April 28, 1986, to Patrick Tyson, Mr. Thomas Komarek, Assistant Secretary for administration and Management requested that (1) OSHA review the documents developed on seismic safety and (2) OSHA designate an individual to serve as the Department's spokesperson and representative on the ICSSC.
(5) On March 2, 1987, I met with Mr. Tabb, OASAM Emergency Coordinator, to discuss the DOL representation on the Seismic Committee and the future implementation of the Executive Order. It was during this meeting that I learned that MSHA recommended OSHA for assistance. I also learned that while OASAM did not receive a written response to Mr. Komarek's memorandum, it was assumed that OSHA had been DOL's representative and would implement the Executive Order when it becomes final.
(6) The Directorate of Technical Support has been reviewing the seismic safety documents from the safety and health aspects and provided comments accordingly. The directorate of Technical Support did not assign a representative to implement the Executive Order. In my March 9 meeting with Mr. Tabb, I explained that this function belongs to the DOL Office of Safety and Health. Later, Mr. Tabb informed me that Mr. Drayton, the Director of that office would decline this responsibility because he did not have staff for it.
(7) Guidelines and Procedures for Implementation of the Executive Order on Seismic Safety describes the functions of the Agency Seismic coordinator as follows:
(1) Be cognizant of all agency building and lifeline programs falling under the scope of the Executive Order;
(2) Participate in developing agency seismic safety implementation plans;
(3) Monitor the execution and results of the agency's efforts in upgrading seismic safety;
(4) Recommend seismic safety programmatic changes, as required;
(5) document the agency's rationale and results regarding risk analysis and cost effectiveness studies which form the basis for the agency's seismic safety decisions;
(6) Act as a focal point for the agency in maintaining necessary seismic safety records, documents, and statistical information; and, (7) Provide those reports to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as required by Section 5 of the Executive Order.
The issue in question is who should represent DOL on seismic safety of DOL buildings and implement the Executive Order when it becomes final.
(1) Since the program is intended to reduce risk to the lives of
occupants of buildings owned or used by the Federal Government, this task belongs to DOL's Office of Safety and Health. Therefore, we recommend that the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management be asked to assign a DOL Seismic Safety Coordinator from the Office of Safety and Health.
a. Consistent with the mission of the Office of Safety and Health.
b. The Directorate of Technical Support will provide technical assistance to the Office of Safety and Health upon request.
(2) Designate a DOL representative from OSHA to implement the provisions of the Executive Order.
Overlaps with DOL's Office of Safety and Health functions.