Report: OSHA Has Broken Regulatory Agenda Promises

Sept. 20, 2004
OSHA has failed to meet 75 percent of the deadlines set in its regulatory agenda despite OSHA Administrator John Henshaw's pledge to do better, according to a new report issued by the non-partisan government watchdog group OMB Watch.

The study compared the most recent regulatory agenda, issued in June, with the deadlines set in the previous agenda released last fall. OMB Watch monitored deadlines for advance notices of proposed rulemaking, notices of proposed rulemaking, final rules and decisions on petitions for rulemaking.

"We have serious questions about the validity of this report's conclusions," commented Henshaw in a statement. "We'll review it in more depth as we continue to actively work on many significant workplace health and safety issues through a vigorous and realistic regulatory agenda.'

It's no secret that soon after taking over at OSHA, Henshaw withdrew large numbers of rules from the agency's regulatory agenda. From the tuberculosis standard to safety and health programs, the agency's regulatory agenda quickly shrank to a shadow of its former size.

Henshaw's explanation for the move was that the agenda had so many items it was not feasible to expect OSHA to make progress on all of them. Rather than representing a realistic list of OSHA rulemaking priorities, he contended, the agenda had become a "wish list," filled with proposals that had languished for years, and with "deadlines" that were simply pushed back every 6 months when a new regulatory agenda came out.

Henshaw promised to convert this wish list to a "to-do list." With a pared down number of rules, the agency could now focus its limited rulemaking resources on the items that remained. He vowed that the days of the elastic deadlines on the regulatory agenda were over.

The OMB Watch report directly challenges this as an explanation for removing so many items for the regulatory agenda.

In addition to missing most of its self-imposed regulatory deadlines, the report states that for the first time since the creation of OSHA 30 years ago, during the Bush administration OSHA has not issued a single economically significant standard.

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