Shaping Smarter Regulations

Thanks to everyone who has posted your ideas and comments! Please continue to submit your ideas to retrospectivereview@dol.gov.

The Department of Labor’s Regulatory Agenda will bring opportunity and economic security to working families, job-seekers, and retirees. As the Department pursues these regulatory efforts, we want to be smart about the way that we regulate.

That’s why the Department is always reviewing existing regulations to ensure that we address any rules that may be out of date, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome and for potential opportunities to modify, streamline, expand, or even repeal rules based on what we have learned.

Over the past five years, we have identified several of these rules, and have taken steps to streamline our regulations. For example, OSHA has published three Standards Improvement Projects (SIPs) that are intended to remove or revise duplicative, unnecessary, and inconsistent safety and health standards, and is now working on a fourth. We believe that these standards have reduced the compliance costs and eliminated or reduced the paperwork burden for a number of OSHA’s standards. And best of all, these projects have been a win-win, because OSHA only considers making such changes to its standards so long as they do not diminish employee protections.

We need your help to help find other opportunities to shape smarter regulations! Please consider posting your input on the questions below by April 1, 2015 (note the extended deadline):

  • Which of the Department’s regulations, guidance, or interpretations should be considered for review, expansion or modification?  
  • What regulations and reporting requirements should be reviewed due to conflicts, inconsistencies, or duplication among our own agencies or with other federal agencies?
  • What reporting requirements and information collections can be streamlined or reduced in frequency while achieving the same level of protections for workers, job-seekers, and retirees? Are there less costly methods, advances in technology, or innovative techniques that can be leveraged toward these purposes?
  • What regulatory reforms may require short-term cost increases to the regulated entities while creating longer-term savings, for example, through the adoption of new technologies?  What information, data, or technical assistance do regulated entities need in order to better assess these opportunities?
  • How should the Department capture changes in firm and market behavior in response to a regulation?
  • What data or other indicators suggest that the estimated costs and benefits of an existing regulation should be reviewed?
  • What other strategies exist for increasing the flexibility of regulations without limiting important protections? What information, data, or other technical assistance do stakeholders require in order to better assess the long-term impact of these reforms upon such protections?

As you answer these questions, it may help to consider areas marked by rapid technological change in a sector that could influence the structure and need for the regulation, whether the chosen regulatory approach will impose large ongoing costs on regulated entities, whether the agency is regulating in an area of significant uncertainty that may be lowered with a future retrospective study, and other conditions. Of course, we won’t be able to act on every idea immediately, but we look forward to considering your input in our ongoing internal review process.

Thanks for helping the Department of Labor find more ways to shape smarter regulations!

Shaping Smarter Regulations

Submitted by

Clothes Cleaning Booth Technology - Compressed Air

The Department of Labor (DOL), specifically the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), should modify, streamline, expand or repeal 30 CFR § 56.13020 Use of compressed air, which currently prohibits the introduction and utilization of technology designed and developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to safely clean dust-soiled work clothes. Contaminated worker clothing has ...more »

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Monetary penalties for workplace H&S violations

In 2012, OSHA made modest revisions to its policy for calculating proposed monetary penalties. OSHA has not required, however, the OSHA State Plan States to adopt this policy. There is wide disparity among the States on proposed penalties for serious, repeat and willful violations. For example, in 2013 the average proposed penalty in Maryland (a State Plan OSHA) for a serious violation was $685, compared to $1,916 in ...more »

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Submitted by

Protect fracking workers from volatile hydrocarbons

OSHA should adopt a regulation to protect fracking workers who are exposed to volatile hydrocarbons and other toxic substances during flowback operations. OSHA’s existing standards are ineffective at protecting oil and gas extraction workers from this hazard. OSHA should issue a regulation based on NIOSH's recommendations for fracking operations. The regulation should include requirements for employers to develop alternative ...more »

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Require Adm./Eng. Controls - Double Hearing Protectors- 100dBA

OSHA should mandate the use of administrative and engineering controls where technically and economically feasible at 100 dBA. In addition, where not feasible, OSHA should mandate the use of double hearing protection at 100 dBA. At this point, the OSHA Field Operation Manual directs officers to enforce administrative and engineering controls where noise exposures border 100 decibels . However, there is no parallel ...more »

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Introduce Current FMLA Reporting to Technology

Often, FMLA practices are not appropriately administered. Many of you might even have heard the term "Friday Monday Leave Act," instead of the real purpose of that acronym, being Family Medical Leave Act. Definitely, this could be handled differently at any given facility, and even within each facility. Employers will often save D.O.L. templates and re-use them without verifying if there have been any updates within the ...more »

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Hearing protector attenuation testing best practices 40 CFR 211

40 CFR 211.206 requires testing to out of date ANSI standard. The burden of testing to establish real ear attenuation performance must remain, however updating to allow current standard methodologies to be used will allow for the possibility of one data set to be used for international requirements. Expand allowable real ear testing at threshold attenuation data to be obtained by the latest version of the applicable ...more »

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OSHA's response to amputations and hospitalizations

Beginning January 1, 2015, employers operating in States under federal OSHA jurisdiction are required to report to OSHA, within 24 hours, all work-related inpatient hospitalizations, all amputations, and all losses of an eye. On a case-by-case basis, OSHA will determine whether to investigate such incidents. To facilitate accountability to the public and transparency, when OSHA decides not to investigate one of these ...more »

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Submitted by

Start enforcing noise regulations

The OSHA regs on noise control dictate that engineering controls be applied to reduce noise levels, as feasible, when exposures exceed 100% - but too many employers fail to realize how the costs of noise remediation can be less than the administration of a hearing conservation program for several years. The other thing is that the use of hearing protection deprives the worker of one of his senses, thus creating a hazard ...more »

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Nuclear Weapons Workers Illness Compensation Program

The Final Rules which govern the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program should be changed to reflect Congressional intent to compensate workers who developed serious and sometimes fatal diseases from exposures to toxic substances at the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons facilities. Below are a few suggestions that will help achieve this goal. Reword section 30.111 to remove the claimant's burden ...more »

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Add Clarification to Reclassification of Permit Space

Add a sentence to clarify reclassification of a permit-required confined space to paragraph (c)(7) of 1910.146. A notation like, A permit-required space that has been reclassified using the procedures below becomes a permit-required space again once the hazards are reintroduced to the permit space. As it written, so many employers interpret this to be a one-time change which is permanent. That is that once the permit ...more »

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Emergency Action Plan scope

Revise the scope of 1910.38(a) to include all businesses with 10 or more employees. The current scope is limited to only where another standard demands it. However, the hazards associated with fire and other emergencies effect more than this standard covers.

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Improve information for workers on hazardous chemicals

The OSHA Globally Harmonized System (GHS) standard is capable of reducing the quantity and quality of information on hazardous chemicals to which American workers are exposed. The standard may bring the United States into conformity with international standards established under the auspices of the United Nations, but GHS is likely to be most helpful to employers in the U.S. and abroad as well as multinational corporations, ...more »

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