Labor Secretary Hilda Solis signed off on her first semi-annual agenda of regulations, which was published in the Federal Register on Monday, May 11. She writes:
“This document sets forth the Department’s semiannual agenda of regulations that have been selected for review or development during the coming year. The Department’s agencies have carefully assessed their available resources and what they can accomplish in the next 12 months and have adjusted their agendas accordingly.”
I’ve griped before about not understanding the difference between the items listed on this “agenda” and the supplemental on-line “Agency Rule List” at reginfo.gov. In Secretary Solis’ notice, she directs us to review another document:
“…the most important signficant regulatory actions and a Statement of Regulatory Priorities are included in The Regulatory Plan, which appears in both the online Unified Agenda and in part II of the Federal Register that includes the Unified Agenda.”
OK….I think. So, I looked for this “part II” document and found it here. It explains in eight pages the Unified Agenda and defines key terms and authorities related to it. After reading this 8-page document, I think (but am not confident) that the difference between the items listed on the “agenda” and the items on the on-line ”agency rule list” are that the former are expected to be completed in 12 months or less AND are estimated to have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities (or are scheduled for a Section 610 Review).
Of the two lists, the on-line ”agency rule list” provides more substantive information and, I suppose, insight into the Labor Secretary’s vision for new worker health and safety regulations. I’ll report the facts below and save my reaction to them for a future post.
On the OSHA side, here are some of the entries (with screenshots) and the expected key dates and actions :
- Cranes and derricks: no key next step action listed
- Beryllium: initiate peer review of risk assessment by December 2009
- Respirable crystalline silica: initiate peer review of risk assessment by June 2009
- Combustible dust: advanced notice of rulemaking by August 2009; stakeholder meeting by December 2009
- Confined space for construction workers: analyze comments by October 2009
- Hearing conservation for construction workers: action to be determined
On the MSHA side, here are some of the entries (with screenshots) and the expected key dates and actions :
- Coal mine dust exposure limit: proposed rule by April 2011
- Respirable crystalline silica: proposed rule by April 2011
- Verification of operators’ dust control plans: solicit additional comments by October 2009
- Single-shift sampling for respirable coal dust: solicit additional comments by October 2009
- Personal continuous coal dust monitoring: advanced notice of proposed rulemaking by August 2009
- Approval by NIOSH and MSHA of personal continuous coal dust monitoring device: final action April 2010
- Proximity detection devices for underground coal mines: request for information by January 2010
You can check out all of the MSHA and OSHA listings here, as well as the notice that the now infamous “secret rule” on occupational health risk assessment is scheduled to be withdrawn from DOL’s agenda in June 2009. It’s a little disconcerting that the abstract associated with this item is exactly the same as the one offered by the Bush Labor Department, and reiterated numerous times by former Asst. Secretary of Labor Leon Sequeira, including in correspondence to House Ed & Labor Chairman George Miller. You’d think that Secretary Solis’ staff would have at least added a sentence to the end of the verbatim abstract, saying something like “based on overwhelming comments from the public, we’ve decided the previous proposals was anti-worker and anti-public health.”
Sorry, I promised no commentary. I’ll save that for another day. What’s your reaction to Secretary Solis’ first regulatory agenda?
Celeste Monforton, MPH, DrPH is an assistant research professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health & Health Services. This is the sixth time she’s written a blog post about these semi-annual reg agendas.