Department of Labor Working to Make Regulation of Workplace Toxic Environments More Difficult

While there may only be a few weeks left for the current administration, it certainly has not given up efforts to effect the country's HR laws.  Specifically, the Department of Labor is rushing its rule-making process to issue a rule making it more difficult for the government to regulate workers' exposure to toxic chemicals at work.  Here is an excerpt from a recent story in the New York Times:

The Labor Department is racing to complete a new rule, strenuously opposed by President-elect Barack Obama, that would make it much harder for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals to which workers are exposed on the job.

The rule, which has strong support from business groups, says that in assessing the risk from a particular substance, federal agencies should gather and analyze “industry-by-industry evidence” of employees’ exposure to it during their working lives. The proposal would, in many cases, add a step to the lengthy process of developing standards to protect workers’ health.

Public health officials and labor unions said the rule would delay needed protections for workers, resulting in additional deaths and illnesses.

If the administration manages to get the rule issued, the Obama administration will almost certainly begin efforts to repeal it as soon as they take office.  Repealing such a rule, however, can take a considerable amount of time.  In the meantime, the rule will have the force and effect of law.