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That’s why the Department is always reviewing existing regulations to ensure that we address any rules that may be out of date, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome and for potential opportunities to modify, streamline, expand, or even repeal rules based on what we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

Campaign: Shaping Smarter Regulations

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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20 votes
21 up votes
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Worker exposure to well-recognized health and safety hazards

OSHA has insufficient (or non-existent) regulations to address workers’ exposure to well-recognized hazards. OSHA should issue a final regulation to protect workers from respirable crystalline silica before the end of the Obama Administration. OSHA should publish proposed regulations on beryllium, combustible dust, communication towers, diesel exhaust, heat stress, fatigue, infectious diseases, and workplace injury and ...more »

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19 votes
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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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18 votes
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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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16 votes
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29 CFR 1904 interpretations regarding antibiotics

Recommend that the interpretation regarding the administration of prophylactic antibiotics following tick bites be changed, so that it is consistent with the interpretation regarding tetanus vaccinations. Administration of prophylactic antibiotics following tick bites is currently interpreted to be medical treatment. This interpretation may discourage the administration of post-bite antibiotics and thereby possibly ...more »

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15 votes
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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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15 votes
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Prohibit Lifting Loads Over Employees

Change 1910.179(n)(3)(vi) "The employer shall require that the operator avoid carrying loads over people." to read "The employer shall prohibit the operator from carrying loads over people." As it stands it is only a suggestion since it reads "avoid” acting as a should and not a shall. Workers have been seriously injured including fatal injuries when loads have broke free dropping on them. All of which could have been ...more »

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14 votes
15 up votes
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Protecting young farm workers from very dangerous tasks

DOL has insufficient prohibitions for workers aged 15 years or younger from performing particularly dangerous tasks when they are employed on US farms. In April 2012, the Labor Department withdrew its draft regulation to protect young farm workers from certain deadly occupational hazards they face. Those hazards have not disappeared, and young farm workers continue to be injured and killed on the job. Secretary of Labor ...more »

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12 votes
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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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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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10 votes
11 up votes
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Updating the methods for estimating adequacy of HP attenuation

Individual fit-test methods are a potential tool for education, training, and measuring/documentation of individual hearing protector attenuation ratings; however, more studies are required to support specific recommendations on the use of fit-test systems. The US Air Force representatives of the ANSI WG 11 request the allowance of the methods described in ANSI S12.68 for use in estimating the adequacy of hearing protector ...more »

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9 votes
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General Industry Fall Protection Standard

OSHA should adopt a fall protection standard for General Industry regulations. Fall protection in general industry relies on guarding, but there are circumstances when guarding not possible or must be removed to accomplish a task such as moving loads to overhead storage.

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