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United Steelworkers of America v. Pendergrass

argued: March 23, 1987.

UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO-CLC, PETITIONER
v.
JOHN A. PENDERGRASS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR, OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, RESPONDENT, AND THE STATE OF NEW YORK, THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT AND NATIONAL PAINT & COATINGS ASSOCIATION, INTERVENORS; UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO-CLC, PETITIONER V. JOHN A. PENDERGRASS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR, OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR RESPONDENT, AND THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, CHEMICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE & ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY, AND NATIONAL PAINT & COATINGS ASSOCIATION, INTERVENORS; PUBLIC CITIZEN, INC., ET AL., PETITIONERS V. JOHN A. PENDERGRASS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR, OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, RESPONDENT, AND THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, CHEMICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION, NATIONAL PAINT & COATINGS ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE & ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY, INTERVENORS; COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS, PETITIONER V. OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH REVIEW COMMISSION, SECRETARY OF LABOR, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, RESPONDENT; PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER V. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND RAYMOND DONOVAN, SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, RESPONDENTS; THE STATE OF NEW YORK PETITIONER V. JOHN A. PENDERGRRASS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR, OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, RESPONDENT



ON PETITIONS FOR REVIEW FOR FURTHER RELIEF WITH RESPECT TO PRIOR DECISION OF THIS COURT.

Gibbons, Chief Judge, and Fisher, Chief Judge*fn* and Kelly, District Judge.*fn**

Author: Gibbons

Opinion OF THE COURT

GIBBONS, Chief Judge.

United Steelworkers of America and Public Citizen, Inc., et al., petitioners in the petition for review which this court granted in United Steelworkers of America v. Auchter, 763 F.2d 728 (3d Cir. 1985), now move to enforce that judgment. The respondent to the present motion, John A. Pendergrass, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, United States Department of Labor, has been substituted for Thorne G. Auchter, his predecessor, as a party in this action. Petitioners contend that the Secretary has not complied with our judgment. In United Steelworkers, we held that the Hazard Communication Standard, promulgated pursuant to section 6 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), Pub. L. No. 91-596, 84 Stat. 1590 (codified as amended at 29 U.S.C. §§ 651-678 (1982)), is valid and may be applied in the manufacturing sector, but we directed the Secretary "to reconsider its application to employees in other sectors, and to order its application in those sectors unless he can state reasons why such application would not be feasible." 763 F.2d at 743. The Secretary contends that he has fully complied with that judgment, which was formally issued on July 8, 1985. He maintains this contention despite the fact that no final position with respect to the application of the hazard communication standard outside the manufacturing sector has been taken, and the fact that there is no intention to take such a position until "early 1988". We conclude that the Secretary has not acted in compliance with this court's judgment and has withheld or unreasonably delayed agency action, and that further relief is necessary.

I.

In 1970, Congress enacted the OSH Act and directed the Secretary of Labor to promulgate occupational safety and health standards to further the purpose of the OSH Act -- that is, "to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions. . . ." 29 U.S.C. §§ 651(b), 655(b)(1). Section 6(b)(7) of the OSH Act explicitly requires that

any standard promulgated under this subsection shall prescribe the use of labels or other appropriate forms of warning as are necessary to insure that employees are apprised of all hazards to which they are exposed, relevant symptoms and appropriate emergency treatment, and proper conditions and precautions of safe use or exposure.

29 U.S.C. § 655(b)(7). Section 7(b) of the OSH Act, as amended, provides that "an advisory committee may be appointed by the Secretary to assist him in his standard-setting functions under section 655 of this title." 29 U.S.C. § 656(b). A Standards Advisory Committee on Hazardous Materials Labeling (Advisory Committee) was established in 1974 and was charged with

develop[ing] guidelines for categorizing and ranking hazards of materials, and guidelines for prescribing the required warnings of such hazards and related information on symptomatology, protective steps and equipment, and safe handling procedures, by such means as labels, data sheets, and training requirements.

Report of the Standards Advisory Committee on Hazardous Materials Labeling dated June 6, 1975 at iv. The Advisory Committee was directed to submit within 270 days a report to the Secretary in a form from which regulations could be fashioned. Id. at iv, 26. The Advisory Committee submitted its report on June 6, 1975, recommending what it described as a "total system" approach to hazard communication, which included the preparation of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), labeling, and employee training programs. See id. at 4-5. The report, like the OSH Act, referred to all workers, making no distinction among employees in different sectors of the economy. Although the Advisory Committee Report was received by the Secretary in June, 1975, no notice of proposed rulemaking on hazard communication was published for some time. On June 28, 1977 the Secretary published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on hazardous materials labeling. See 42 Fed. Reg. 5,372 (1977). In that advance notice, the Secretary requested "public comment as to whether a standard requiring employers to label hazardous materials should be developed and what should be contained in such standard to assure that employees are apprised of the hazards to which they are exposed." Id. All "interested persons" were "invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning a standard on hazardous materials labeling." Id. at 5,373. Among the topics on which comments were requested was "supported cost data of the estimated costs of coming into compliance with the recommendations of the advisory committee." Id. At this stage in 1977, the notice, like the Advisory Committee Report's recommendations, was addressed to all employers, not only to employers in the manufacturing sector.

On January 16, 1981, more than ten years after the enactment of section 6(b)(7) of the OSH Act, more than five years after the Secretary received the Advisory Committee Report, and almost four years after the June 28, 1977 advance notice of proposed rulemaking, the Secretary issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on hazard identification. See 46 Fed. Reg. 4,412 (1981). This notice specified that comments had to be received on or before April 18, 1981, and that hearings would be held at five places between May 26, 1981 and September 1, 1981. The proposed hazard communication standard was to be applicable to employers in Division D (manufacturing), major groups 20-39 in the most recent revision of the Standard Industrial Classification Manual published by the Office of Management and Budget (the manufacturing sector). Id. at 4,426. The notice further provided:

Although evidence is presently lacking, the need for the protections of the hazards identification standard may well be as great in some industries excluded from coverage as they are in those covered. Accordingly, OSHA invites comment on the appropriate scope of coverage. Employers currently excluded from the scope of the proposal may be included in the scope of the final standard if evidence in the record ultimately warrants such inclusion. They and others interested in this issue are therefore given notice that they should be prepared to participate in the rulemaking and provide justification, if they so desire, of why particular classes of employers should or should not be excluded.

Id. Thus, the 1981 notice of rulemaking gave notice that employers outside the manufacturing sector should comment and provide information at the scheduled hearings as to why ...


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