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That’s why the Department is always reviewing existing regulations to ensure that we address any rules that may be out of date, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome and for potential opportunities to modify, streamline, expand, or even repeal rules based on what we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

DOL Should Update and Modernize PERM Regulations

There are a number of aspects of the PERM regulations (Program Electronic Review Management used in the Labor Certification process for permanent residency sponsorship by employers) that continue to require revision, so they are updated and modernized, none of which have been addressed since the 2011 regulatory review process: 20 CFR Part 656 currently has no agency timelines for adjudications, audits or appeals. When ...more »

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Dialogue on the need for and right to use paid sick leave

Employees fortunate enough to have paid sick days sometimes report that management penalizes them for using the sick days to which they are entitled. During flu season each year, OSHA should use online communications and social media to remind employers that when sick workers use paid sick time to stay home and recover, it’s good for everyone’s health.

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DOL Should Withdraw H-2B Program Rule and Accede to DHS

The Department’s comprehensive program rule to govern the H-2B visa program was published after the April 2011 collection of comments on regulatory reform. This rule, also published at 20 CFR Part 655, creates a burdensome and unworkable construct for legally employing temporary foreign workers. In fact the program rules were a blatant attempt by DOL to simply graft the requirements the agency had imposed in the H-2A ...more »

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DOL Should Withdraw Its H-2B Wage Methodology Rule

After imposition of a new prevailing wage methodology was barred by Congress in appropriations riders for FY12 and FY13, the Department of Labor did an end-run around congressional intent and promulgated a new joint rule with the Department of Homeland Security that, technically, was not barred by the riders. The new prevailing wage methodology under 20 CFR Part 655 was unworkable for most employers, who were able to ...more »

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EEOICPA Notification to Claimants

• Consider requiring the OWCP to automatically and timely provided to the employee any written medical documentation, contemporaneous records, and other records or documents obtained or generated by the OWCP and not submitted by the employee or their representative that the OWCP has relied on to render a decision on medical benefits. This includes directed medical exam (medical second opinion) reports, district medical ...more »

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Work environment for meatpacking and poultry processing workers

OSHA’s existing standards are ineffective at protecting meatpacking and poultry processing workers from developing carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and other work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The pace, repetition, and design of work on production lines in most meatpacking and poultry plants are the key risk factors for worker injuries. In September 2013, the Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of civil rights ...more »

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Lower Action Limit for Occupational Noise from 85 to 80 dBA

OSHA should lower the action limit for occupational noise exposure from 85 dBA to 80 dBA. The European Union Noise Directive mandates 80 dBA as an action limit. Workers will still lose hearing exposed at 85 dBA and Hearing protectors are optional until levels reach 90 decibels. NIOSH notes that 1 in 12 workers will develop hearing loss exposed to 85 decibels and the risk does not approach zero until you get to 80 decibels. ...more »

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Information Collection - Voluntary Survey Burdens

One of the questions posed as part of the Shaping Smarter Regulations campaign is concerned with information collection. While BLS collections are not mandatory, the Agency is required to include the estimated paperwork burdens of its various programs within the overall DOL paperwork budget. Unfortunately, the calculations presented in the BLS' ICR filings with OMB/OIRA do not address burden distribution. For example, ...more »

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Hearing Conservation - Medical Surveilance

Change 1910.95 (g) from "...making audiometric testing available to all employees ..." to requiring audiometric testing to all employees whose exposures equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels. Some employers may encourage employees to opt out of medical surveillance as a means of deferring cost. It seems rational that an employee would want to have their hearing testing where they are overexposed, ...more »

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Safety Belts and Lines

The Industrial Minerals Association - North America (IMA-NA) suggests that MSHA’s fall protection standard be updated to advise against the use of safety belts as an acceptable form of personal protection against falls. OSHA long-ago made this change as evidenced in 1926.502(d): "Personal fall arrest systems." Personal fall arrest systems and their use shall comply with the provisions set forth below. Effective January ...more »

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Clarify- Single Valve is Not an Isolation Device in 1910.147

Add notation to 1910.147, Lockout/Tagout, Energy Isolation device definition such as, A single valve does not meet the requirements of an isolating device since it cannot prevent the transmission of hazardous energy. In addition, the device must achieve positive isolation including, but not limited to double block and bleed, blank or blind, or misalign or remove sections of pipe. The confined space standard makes it ...more »

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Individual fit-testing & in-ear dosimetry for App. B of 1910.95

The practices of in-ear dosimetry and individual hearing protection fit-testing should be considered an appropriate alternative as an individualized safety factor for the purposes of evaluating hearing protector effectiveness per Appendix B of 29CFR 1910.95. At the time that 1910.95 was promulgated, in-ear dosimetry and individual fit testing of hearing protection in the field were not feasible. However, now several ...more »

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