The Department of Labor (DOL) has released an updated Retrospective Review Progress Report (pdf) that includes revised target completion dates for certain agency rulemaking efforts. The report was created in response to Executive Order (E.O.) 13563 – Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review – which aims to improve regulation and regulatory review of rules that could potentially hinder job growth and creation. Issued in January 2011, E.O. 13563 directs agencies to, among other things, “periodically review its existing significant regulations to determine whether any such regulations should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed.” Last month, President Obama issued E.O. 13610 – Identifying and Reducing Regulatory Burdens – that builds upon the prior E.O. by focusing on ways to reduce the costs and obligations of federal regulation.
Among other proposals, the DOL is considering the following rulemaking activities:
According to the latest report, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) intends to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) sometime this month that will address the agency’s plan to update its personal protective equipment (PPE) (head protection) standard to align it with national consensus standards. Specifically, the proposal “will make the requirements of OSHA's PPE Standard consistent with current industry practices, thereby eliminating confusion and clarifying employer obligations, which will increase employee safety by encouraging compliance.” This proposed PPE standard will address head protection only.
In addition, OSHA plans to issue a request for information (RFI) by August 2012 regarding a proposed review/look-back of OSHA Chemical Standards. According to the report, OSHA's permissible exposure limits (PELs) “are outdated and need revising in order to take into account newer scientific data that indicates that significant occupational health risks exist at levels below OSHA's current PELs.” To this end, the agency is developing a RFI to help OSHA “identify effective ways to address occupational exposure to chemicals.”
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) continues to develop its NPRM that would set forth new sex discrimination regulations applicable to federal contractors and subcontractors. The DOL report explains that current guidance “is more than 30 years old and warrants a regulatory lookback.” The target completion date for issuing this NPRM is August 2012.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is ready to send its NPRM amending the agency’s regulations concerning abandoned individual account pension plans to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. In 2006 the agency issued a set of regulations that govern the “termination of, and distribution of benefits from, individual account pension plans that have been abandoned by their sponsoring employers.” The EBSA is considering how and whether these regulations should be amended by expanding the scope of who constitutes a “qualified termination administrator (QTA).” Currently, only a QTA is authorized “to determine whether an individual account plan is abandoned and to carry out related activities necessary to the termination and winding up of the plan's affairs.”
The agency contends that:
revising the existing regulation and related class exemption will result in substantial benefits for participants and beneficiaries of eligible plans because their account balances will be maximized for two primary reasons. First, prompt, efficient termination of these plans will eliminate future administrative expenses charged to the plans that otherwise would diminish plan assets. Second, by following the specific standards and procedures set forth in the rule, EBSA expects that overall plan termination costs will be reduced due to increased efficiency. The primary beneficiaries of these amendments are participants and beneficiaries in plans of businesses in liquidation proceedings under the US Bankruptcy Code.
Prior DOL regulatory reports and additional information on the agency’s current regulatory agenda can be found here.
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