Saturday, February 07, 2009

Obama Administration to Shift Regulatory Approach

A new federal approach to ergonomics ...

"The Obama administration will move swiftly on establishing a new regulatory environment by making new regulations and reversing existing rules that affect business and commerce. Among the first acts of the new administration was putting a 180-day hold on all regulatory actions near completion, but not finalized, to allow the new regulatory staff time to review and halt or change them.

A much more active and engaged workplace safety regime is expected at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for instance. Unlike the Bush administration, which emphasized compliance assistance and cooperation with business, the Obama administration will put a heavier hand on enforcement, following through with blunt warnings and penalties.

Many ignored rules will be dusted off and put back on track. They include:

* An ergonomics rule to protect workers from repetitive motion injuries.
* Regulating exposure to beryllium, which is used in dental work, aerospace and computers and is associated with lung disease.
* A revision of the Permissible Exposure Limits -- a list of more than 400 toxic chemicals that has not been revised in about 40 years.
* A rule to protect health workers from tuberculosis.
* Regulating the levels of silica, the tiny fibrous material in cement and stone dust that causes lung disease and cancer.
* Regulation of hazardous exposure to ionizing radiation in mailrooms, food warehouses, hospitals and airports.

The new administration will also be working to reverse a spate of the Bush administration's final regulatory changes from late last year and in early January on health, labor and environmental regulations. However, many may stay on the books for a while. Overturning them takes time and often requires lengthy reviews and public comment periods. Regulations, once finalized, can't be removed by executive order, and efforts by Congress to overturn them can be difficult.

Among rules in effect that are being eyed for revision or removal are ones that:

* Ease restrictions on how large factory farms report air pollution emissions from animal waste.
* Permit several types of hazardous waste to be reclassified as fuel, which allows it to be burned instead of being disposed of in more restricted manners.
* Require states to accept bids from private companies whenever they reorganize toll road management and operations or transfer operating authority of toll roads from one agency to another."    (Continued via Kiplinger.com, Richard Sammon)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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