Labor Secretary Chao issued her semi-annual regulatory today, listing allegedly the Department’s “regulations that have been selected for review or development during the coming year.” It all might seem kind of pointless (given that she won’t have a say after Jan 20) but the document is in fact enlightening for what it doesn’t mention. There’s no peep about Asst. Secretary Leon Sequeira’s pet project to change the way the MSHA and OSHA assess workers’ risk to health hazards, YET on RegInfo.gov, Secretary Chao indicates that the risk assessment rule will be completed by 11/00/08—that is, in the next 4 days. See for yourself (here’s the screenshot).
Secrecy prevails about this rule. According to OMB, DOL has not submitted it to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), for review. (View rules currently under review by OMB here).
Could this mean that Asst. Secretary Sequeira and Secretary Chao have decided that the risk assessment rule does not require OMB review?
Does it mean that Asst. Secretary Sequeira and Secretary Chao plan to publish a final rule on OSHA’s and MSHA’s risk assessment procedures ASAP, despite the load of comments they received and could not possibly have addressed in a final rule?
Or is the 11/00/08 date for “final action” on the risk assessment rule as meaningless as most dates listed in OSHA and MSHA’s regulatory agendas? Let’s see, this newest regulatory agenda says that the peer review of the risk assessment on respirable crystalline silica will be completed by 03/00/09. The previous reg agenda said it would be completed by 08/00/08, and the one before that said 1/00/08, and the one before that said 09/00/07. You get the idea?
If you know more about what is going on with this rule—including career staff working in DOL—please let us know. I’m at 202-994-0774 or email@example.com
Celeste Monforton, MPH, DrPH was with the Department of Labor from 1991-2001. She testified in oppositions to DOL’s proposed rule on risk assessment in mid-September 2008 before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and Labor.