OSHA Snuffs Out Proposed Workplace Smoking Ban

December 18, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says it will withdraw a proposed standard banning smoking in virtually all workplaces, according to the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA).

The proposal drew a record 110,000 public comments when introduced in 1994.

One reason for the pullback: Efforts by state/local governments and private industry have gone a long way towards cleaning indoor air. Not only that, but withdrawing the initiative will free OSHA resources for other projects, the agency said.

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“Today’s action takes the positive step of setting aside what had become a contentious and unproductive effort,” OSHA Administrator John Henshaw told BNA. He added, however, that the action “does not preclude agency action if the need arises.”

The agency’s action also appeared to have been related to a lawsuit filed last spring by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a nonsmokers’ rights group in Washington, D.C., which had sought a court order to require the agency to act on the standard within 90 days.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which had been considering the suit, had ordered OSHA in November to provide a timetable by December. 13 for concluding the rulemaking. The case was dismissed December 13.
The proposed rule would have required employers in office buildings, health care establishments, and other non-industrial settings to indoor air contaminants ranging from high amounts of carbon dioxide to spores and fungi that may linger in ventilation ducts.

– Fred Schneyer      editors@plansponsor.com