OSHA Reopens Tuberculosis Rulemaking Record

OSHA reopens the tuberculosis rulemaking to give interested parties the opportunity to review and comment on the agency's final risk assessment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reopened the tuberculosis (TB) rulemaking record to give interested parties the opportunity to review and comment on the agency's final risk assessment and the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) report "Tuberculosis in the Workplace." The record will be open for 60 days.

OSHA published a proposed standard to control occupational exposure to tuberculosis on Oct. 17, 1997. The agency determined that the standard would help protect an estimated 5.3 million workers in more than 100,000 hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and other work settings with a significant risk of TB infection.

OSHA last reopened the TB record during June 1999 when the agency sought comment on new studies or data that would assist in determining the occupational risk of TB exposure. The agency asked two experts in the fields of TB epidemiology and risk assessment to review the draft risk assessment.

Dr. Richard Menzies, Professor and Director of the Respiratory Epidemiology Unit at McGill University in Montreal, and Dr. Mark Nicas, Professor at the University of California Berkeley, and a certified industrial hygienist, have concluded their review. Their evaluation is also available for comment.

The Institute of Medicine - the health policy arm of the National Academy of Sciences - was asked by Congress to prepare a report about the occupational risks of TB to health care workers. IOM's report addresses questions related to the implementation of TB guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the potential effectiveness of an OSHA standard to protect these workers.

Anyone wishing to comment should send two copies of comments, postmarked not later than March 25, to: Docket Office, Docket H-371, Room N-2625, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20210. Comments of 10 pages or fewer may be faxed to (202) 693-1648. (If faxed, the original and one copy of all comments must be sent to the Docket Office as soon as possible).

Comments may also be submitted electronically to ecomments.osha.gov. Information such as studies and journal articles cannot be attached to electronic submissions and must be submitted in duplicate to the above mailing address. Attachments must clearly identify the respondent's electronic submission by name, date and subject.

The entire TB rulemaking record is available for review and copying at OSHA's Docket Office, which can be reached by phone at (202) 693-2350.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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