Delays in Setting Workplace Standards for Cancer-Causing and Other Dangerous Substances

HRD-77-71: Published: May 10, 1977. Publicly Released: May 10, 1977.

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Administrative weaknesses have caused delays in developing standards to protect workers from cancer-causing and other dangerous substances.

Although workers are exposed to thousands of toxic substances, hundreds of which may cause cancer, Government efforts have produced standards for only 15 substances. The bleak occupational health conditions which the Congress sought to improve still exist and may be getting worse. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) has submitted recommendations and supporting information on 53 substances to the Department of Labor, but standards have been issued by Labor on only two of these substances.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Labor and HEW should estimate, based on the best available data, the total needs for health standards and how long it will take to complete them with existing funding levels. They should determine whether and to what extent additional funds can be used effectively to speed up standards development and to increase efforts to inform, educate, and train employees and employers about toxic substances. If more funds can be used effectively, the Secretary of Labor should allocate more funds to health standards development and to health information, education, and training activities. The Secretary of HEW should require that decisions on how much effort to devote to standards development, as opposed to other HEW worker-protection programs, be based partly on Labor's ability to act promptly on recommended standards.

    Agency Affected:


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