Health Hazard Evaluation Program Needs Improvement

HRD-78-13: Published: May 18, 1978. Publicly Released: May 18, 1978.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 established the health hazard evaluation program which requires the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to determine, when properly requested by employers or employees, whether substances in workplaces are toxic. The program is administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and requires that employers and employees be advised of the results of health hazard evaluations as soon as possible.

Although NIOSH estimates that millions of workers are exposed to thousands of cancer causing and other dangerous substances in their workplaces, it had received only 892 requests for health hazard evaluations in about 6 years. NIOSH has done little to publicize and promote the program, and officials believe that most employees and employers are not aware of either NIOSH or its health hazard evaluation program. After making health hazard evaluations, NIOSH takes a long time to prepare comprehensive, technical reports that recipients may not understand. Hazards could be identified and corrected sooner and NIOSH personnel could be used more effectively if reports were issued soon after the evaluations were made. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration headquarters does not have a policy, and its area offices do not have a program or procedures, for using hazard evaluation reports to plan inspections.

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  • employment icon, source: GAO

    Priority Open Recommendations:

    Department of Labor
    GAO-19-395SP: Published: Apr 3, 2019. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 2019.

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