Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (10/15/1987)

(Measure passed House, amended, roll call #359 (225-186))

High Risk Occupational Disease Notification and Prevention Act of 1987 - Establishes a Risk Assessment Board (Board) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to: (1) review current medical and other scientific studies and reports concerning the incidence of disease associated with exposure to occupational health hazards; (2) identify and designate, from such review and from field assessments, employee populations at risk of disease associated with hazardous occupational exposures; (3) develop a form and method of notification to be used by the Secretary of HHS, and agents of the Secretary to notify the designated population at risk; and (4) determine the appropriate type of medical monitoring, health counseling, or both, that would be appropriate for mention in the notice.

Describes the extent of the Board's access to information and data of Governmental entities and of employers.

Sets forth factors which the Board must consider in identifying populations at risk. Authorizes the Board, when it identifies a long-latent disease among persons exposed to substances, agents, or processes, to limit notification to persons whose exposure occurred within certain time periods.

Authorizes the Board to engage the services of experts in carrying out its activities with respect to occupational health hazards and diseases related to them.

Gives priority to Board review of employee populations exposed to occupational health hazards whose members are most likely to be helped through medical monitoring, health counseling, or both. Directs the Board, in making this determination, to consider: (1) exposures for which there exists a permanent standard under specified provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970; (2) the extent of medical monitoring and surveillance already available to employee populations covered by the permanent standards; and (3) the need to notify former and current employees.

Requires the Board, for such priority review purposes, to consider individuals who have been exposed to dioxin as members of employee populations most likely to benefit from medical monitoring, or health counseling, or both.

Sets forth administrative procedures and a timetable to govern Board findings and recommendations relating to the identification of populations at risk and the notification of individuals within such groups. Permits any aggrieved person to bring a civil action for mandamus in the appropriate U.S. district court if final agency action is not completed within 160 days.

Requires the Board to designate as a population at risk those health care workers and emergency care workers who are at risk of occupational exposure to the disease known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or the virus known as HTLV-III or LAV virus.

Directs the Secretary, through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Institute), upon determination that a given class or category of employee is a population at risk of disease, to notify each individual within such population and his or her respective employer. Authorizes the Secretary, in addition, to use public service announcements and other appropriate means of notification. Requires notification via prominent postings at the worksite in certain instances.

Directs the Secretary to establish procedures for notifying persons who have been subjects of epidemiological studies which demonstrate findings of increased risk of occupational disease and which were conducted by an agency within the Department of HHS. Requires such notification procedures to be included in all future epidemiological studies by such an agency.

Sets forth the required contents of such notification, including counseling information.

Directs the Secretary to establish a telephone "hot line" for the personal physicians of employees who have received such notification in order to provide additional medical and scientific information concerning the nature of the risk and its associated disease.

Directs the Institute to prepare and distribute other medical and health promotion material and information on any risk subject to such notification requirements and its associated disease as it deems appropriate.

Provides that, in carrying out such notification responsibilities, the Secretary shall have access to information and data contained in any: (1) Federal agency records, solely for the purpose of obtaining names, addresses, and work histories of employees subject to such notification; and (2) employer records, insofar as Federal access is provided under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

Authorizes the Secretary to certify a private employer or a State or local government to conduct worker notification, but prohibits access to Federal information by such employers or governments.

Exempts the United States and its agencies and employees from any suit or judicial or nonjudicial proceeding that seeks monetary damages with respect to acts or omissions pursuant to this Act. Makes exceptions in cases of certain knowing and willful violations.

Provides for petition for judicial review to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals by any person adversely affected or aggrieved by a Board determination under this Act that a given class or category of employees is a population at risk.

Directs the Secretary, within 90 days after the effective date of this Act, to establish and certify ten health centers. Requires such centers to be selected from among education resource centers of the Institute and similar facilities of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, and other private and governmental organizations that apply for such designation. Directs the Secretary, within five years of such effective date, to establish and certify additional health centers so as to obtain no fewer than one center per State. Requires the centers to provide: (1) education, training, and technical assistance to personal physicians and health and social service professionals who serve employees notified; and (2) diagnosis, treatment, medical monitoring, and family services for such employees. Directs the Secretary to reimburse the centers for the cost of developing a training program and procuring specialized equipment.

Directs the Secretary to make grants to health centers, schools of public health and other institutions, and other organizations to conduct research, training, and education aimed at improving the means of assisting employees exposed to occupational health hazards and the means of identifying worker populations exposed to such hazards.

Authorizes the Secretary of HHS to make grants to and enter into contracts with schools of medicine and of nursing having existing programs in occupational medicine or health to assist such programs in meeting costs for projects: (1) to provide continuing education to enable certain faculty to teach the diagnosis and treatment of occupational diseases; (2) to develop and disseminate curricula and training materials concerning occupational medicine or health for use in undergraduate medical or nursing training; or (3) to establish certain clinical training programs related to occupational medicine or health. Sets out applicant characteristics to which the Secretary must give preference in awarding such grants for existing programs.

Authorizes the Secretary to make similar grants to schools of medicine and of nursing that do not already have training programs in occupational medicine or health. Details criteria to be met by such grant projects.

Directs the Secretary to make grants to at least ten schools between FY 1988 and FY 1990.

Requires any employer, upon the request of any employee notified as being in a population at risk, to provide the appropriate testing, evaluation, and medical monitoring requested by such employee: (1) at no additional cost to the employee, if any part of the pertinent exposure occurred during employment by that employer; or (2) at a charge not exceeding the cost to the employer, if no part of such exposure occurred during employment by that employer. Provides that an employer shall not be required to duplicate any medical monitoring required under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 or the Federal Mine Safety Act of 1969.

Prohibits the discharge of or discrimination against any employee who is or has been a member of a population at risk, but does not prohibit an employer from refusing to hire an applicant who is or has been at risk with respect to an occupational hazard for a position requiring exposure to that same hazard.

Allows an employer with 50 or fewer employees to transfer an employee who is or has been a member of a population at risk to another job so long as the new job has earnings, seniority, and other employment rights and benefits as comparable as practicable to the old job, and so long as no applicable collective bargaining agreement is violated.

Provides for an employee's removal, for medical reasons, to a less hazardous or nonexposed job. Establishes procedures to govern such removal protection, as well as exceptions to the implementation of such removal. Prohibits benefit reductions for employees so transferred.

Makes medical removal protection requirements inapplicable to any seasonal agricultural worker employed by an employer for less than six months of continuous employment.

Exempts an employer from the requirement to provide medical removal protection for employees if the employer: (1) has 50 or fewer full-time employees at the time medical removal protection is requested; and (2) has made or is making a reasonable good faith effort to eliminate the occupational health hazard.

Assures the confidentiality of records of the identity, diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment of an individual employee maintained in connection with this Act.

Provides for review of complaints of employees aggrieved by violations of provisions relating to employee medical monitoring, discrimination, and confidentiality. Provides for reinstatement and other relief for such employees. Establishes civil penalties for violations of such provisions.

Provides for injunctive relief with respect to violations of this Act or any rule or regulation promulgated under this Act.

Prohibits certain Board determinations about the at risk status, notification, or medical monitoring of an employee from being introduced as evidence or from serving as a legal basis with respect to any claim under State or Federal law for compensation, loss, or damage; but permits the admission into evidence of specified related types of information. States that notification under this Act shall not be relevant for purposes of any statute of limitations applicable to such claims.

Directs the Secretary of Labor to report annually to the Congress, by January 15, regarding the implementation and enforcement of the hazard communication standard. Directs the Secretary of HHS to report annually on the occupational disease notification under this Act.

Authorizes appropriations for FY 1988 through 1992 to carry out this Act, with a specific amount earmarked for research grants to improve methods of monitoring and identifying at risk employee populations.

Fixes time limits with respect to: (1) the appointment of a Board; and (2) the issuance of regulations to administer this Act.