Standard of Exposure: Industry Opposition to OSHA

In 1978, John T. Barr of the Law Department for Air Products–an American chemical industry company–drafted a hearing brief on OSHA’s recently proposed regulations and its reach of power.

Founded only seven years prior to the submission of Barr’s hearing brief, OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) was established as a U.S. regulatory agency with the authority to inspect and examine workplaces. As this document demonstrates, OSHA faced pushback from industry groups who protested stricter regulatory policies and practices in the workplace since its beginning.

The drafted hearing brief begins: “I. There is no cancer epidemic.”
With this denial of a “cancer epidemic,” Barr undermined the realities of occupational disease affecting workers in the United States which OSHA intended to prevent.


Barr also attacked the reach of OSHA with remarks such as “OSHA’s authority does not extend to promulgation of an inflexible “generic” rule for substances that are not uniform” and “The proposed regulation mandating a standard of no exposure if there are “suitable substitutes” is invalid, and should be abandoned by OSHA.”

Check out the full document here!