An interested party may file an objection to the rulemaking (i.e., to the making of any rule, as opposed to a comment on the proposed rule) during the comment period. The filing of an objection requires the agency to hold hearings.
In order to hold hearings OSHA must publish notice of the objections filed along with the dates, times, and places for the hearings in the Federal Register within 30 days of the close of the comment period.
Within 60 days of completion of the last hearing or the last day for submission of comments if no hearings were required, the Secretary may issue a decision regarding the approval or disapproval of the new standard. The Secretary has the discretion to exceed this period.
When promulgating new standards OSHA must also comply with requirements imposed by other congressional acts and executive orders in the name of regulatory reform (McGarity, 1996). These include environmental impact statements, unfunded mandates analysis, and regulatory flexibility analysis. All agencies are required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 to prepare Environmental Impact Statements when taking an action that will have an effect on the quality of the environment. Even if a new standard will have no effect on the quality of the environment, OSHA still must conduct the analysis and provide the basic notice that its action will have no environmental effect prior to instituting the new rule (Occupational Exposure to Tuberculosis, 1997). OSHA must provide notice that it undertook an analysis calculating the most cost-effective means of accomplishing its regulatory objective in order to fully comply with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995. This is required when any executive agency action imposes costs in excess of $100 million per year on the private sector (Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995). Finally, OSHA must assess the nonregulatory alternatives to achieving the same benefit of the regulation, perform a limited cost-effectiveness analysis, and conduct a costs minimization analysis for small business in order to comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act and Executive Order 12866, which governs regulatory planning and review in the executive branch. This Executive Order requires administrative agencies to engage in regulatory flexibility analysis to determine among other things if the costs of the regulation are justified by its benefits. The cost-benefit and costs minimization analyses are discussed below in the section on substantive rulemaking requirements, as they have some impact on understanding how OSHA is tabulating the effect of its proposed standard and how OSHA developed some portions of the content of its standard. OSHA did not find that there were nonregulatory alternatives to accomplishing the same goal as the proposed standard (Occupational Exposure to Tuberculosis, 1997).