The US Department of Labor has initiated a fast-track program to reassess and relax current workplace rules on permissible limits of exposure to toxic materials. The program is now the No. 1 priority of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, leap-frogging long-in-process standards covering beryllium and silicosis, and apparently bypassing the need for a revised hoist and derrick safety standard. Capitol Hill insiders say the current blitzkrieg to lower worker safeguards is a response to longstanding complaints from businesses that the government over-estimates the risk posed by exposure to many chemicals. Another reason suggested was that the Bush administration hoped to delay or block any attempt by the incoming administration to change safety regulations on toxins.
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