Industrial Union Department, Afl-Cio v. Hodgson

499 F.2d 467 (1974)


OSHA is the first comprehensive attempt by Congress to deal with occupational hazards in the workplace. The Act erects a general framework to govern the development of regulations and delegates the task of formulating particular health and safety standards to the Secretary of Labor. OSHA specifies the procedure to be followed in the promulgation of standards and provides for the establishment of a research institute and the appointment of advisory committees to assist the Secretary. The Act imposes a general obligation upon employers to provide safe working conditions. D, the Secretary of Labor, is required to promulgate standards to control particular health hazards that come to his attention. Certain types of controls, including monitoring, medical examinations, warnings, record keeping, and specific protective measures are specified by the statute itself, but the decision as to when and how they should be required with regard to particular health hazards is left to D. Asbestos' commercial value is high, but it is hazardous to health. Thousands of workers have been killed or disabled by the effects of inhaling asbestos fibers. No one has disputed that exposure to asbestos of high enough intensity and long enough duration is causally related to asbestosis and cancers. The dispute is as to the determination of a specific level below which exposure is safe. Ps requested D to establish an emergency standard to control concentrations of asbestos dust. After notice, and comment D established the standards in question. Ps appealed D’s determinations. Ps allege no procedural errors in the promulgation of these standards, but they characterize them as inadequate to protect the health of employees as required by the Act. Ps attack D's interpretation of OSHA in certain particulars, as well as the enforcement measures he has selected. OSHA is a self-contained statute that does not depend upon reference to the Administrative Procedure Act for specification of the procedures to be followed. It prescribes that the process of promulgating a standard is to be initiated by the publication of a proposed rule. Interested persons are given a period of 30 days thereafter, within which to submit written data or comments. Within this period any interested person may submit written objections, and may request a public hearing thereon. In such event, D shall publish a notice specifying the particular standard involved and stating the time and place of the hearing. Within 60 days after the completion of such hearing, D shall make his decision. Judicial review by the courts of appeals is provided. In this instance, D made extensive and highly technical findings of fact to support the asbestos rule. Even so D was required to make policy judgments. D set the same target date for compliance with the rule and D required different retention periods for different types of records.