OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
Joseph A. Dear, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), testified today that negotiated rulemaking has helped the regulatory agency develop partnerships among adversaries and cut through red tape. Negotiated Rulemaking Act (NRA) is being reviewed by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law for possible reauthorization.
"Negotiated rulemaking is a core component of OSHA's effort to reinvent itself," Dear said. "Our goals are focusing on results, cutting red tape, and developing partnerships with those we regulate. Neg/reg meets all our criteria."
Dear told the Subcommittee that neg/reg helped OSHA develop protections for workers engaged in steel erection. Although it employs only five percent of the workforce, construction accounts for more than 20 percent of the occupational fatalities occurring annually; approximately one-third result from falls from high places. Among construction workers, those erecting steel structures are most at risk.
OSHA formed the Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee (SENRAC), which consisted of, among others, the Ironworkers International, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Erectors Association, the United Steelworkers of America, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Essentially, all parties with a vested interest in this rulemaking were able to participate at Committee and workgroup meetings.
Over an 18-month period, SENRAC met 11 times to hammer out longstanding differences that, until negotiated rulemaking, could not be resolved. The flexibility of neg/reg allowed the committee to consider needs of all elements of the industry. OSHA staff are presently preparing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) based on the SENRAC's consensus text, which OSHA hopes to publish by the end of this calendar year.
Dear also told the subcommittee that rulemaking is advantageous only when all interests in a particular rulemaking are represented. Otherwise, he said, "there is almost a guarantee that the final rule will end up in litigation. The legal process can take years to run its course, and already tight resources, which could be used for other purposes, are spent on litigation costs. Workers continue to be injured in the interim."
Dear noted that not all rules are suitable for negotiated rulemaking, but if a determination is made that public interest is better served through neg/reg, an agency should not be reluctant to use the process.
As another indication of OSHA's commitment to the process, the agency this month published a Notice of Intent to Form Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee to Develop a Proposal Rule on Fire Protection in Shipyard Employment in the Federal Register. The Committee will include about 15 members representing such significantly affected interests as shipyard owner, contractors, labor organizations representing employees who perform fire protection work, firefighters (both in-yard/plant and municipal), government entities, professional associations, and manufacturers and suppliers of fire protection equipment. OSHA will also seek public comment on whether additional interests should be included.
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