According to recent reports, the Labor Department is racing to complete and implement a new rule that was opposed by President-elect Barack Obama regarding benzene emissions. The new rule would supposedly make it harder for the government to regulate toxic substances to which employees are exposed to while on the job.
The rule is reportedly being strongly supported by business groups and states that in assessing how risky certain substances are to the workplace, federal agencies should gather and analyze evidence of the employees’ exposure during their working lives. In many cases, the proposal would add a step to the process of developing higher standards in regards to protecting the health of workers.
Benzene Rule Details
Public health officials worry that the rule will only delay much needed protections for workers across the country, which could ultimately result in more deaths and illnesses. The Labor Department proposal is reportedly one of 20 highly debatable rules that the Bush Administration is trying to pass during his last weeks in office. The other rules cover a wide array of topics from abortion, to auto safety and the environment.
The one regarding benzene emissions at workplaces across the country is of importance due to the harm that benzene can cause to anyone exposed over an extended duration of time. Benzene is a toxic chemical that has been linked to leukemia and other cancers. It is typically used in gasoline, dyes, synthetic rubbers, and cigarettes. If this rule is passed and workers across the country aren’t protected from benzene and other toxic chemicals, more and more people could die and become ill from diseases linked to these substances.