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September 3, 2008

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International (USA)-US proposing changes in workplace hazard rules

The US government is proposing that workplace hazard standards must be subjected to increased scrutiny by both experts and the public before being adopted, possibly making it more difficult to protect workers from exposure to carcinogens and other toxic materials, Associated Press reports.

The Labor Department ‘Advance Notice’ proposal would require its agencies to seek additional public input and scientific data on workplace health hazards before issuing any change of rules, to ensure that it was casting a wide net for the best available data.

Unions and other critics argue that there is already ample opportunity in the rule-making process for public and expert comment, and accused the Bush administration of taking 11th-hour steps to slow down the implemention of new health and safety laws. They are worried extra delays will make it more difficult to protect workers in the future, especially from hazards that are already well recognised.

The Labor Department denied that the proposal would cause delays in implementing health and safety standards.

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