regulationsA group of U.S. CEOs says the overall regulatory burden to U.S. businesses has "grown substantially" in recent years.

"Some experts estimate that regulations impose hundreds of billions of dollars of costs on the U.S. economy each year," says a statement by Business Roundtable, Business Roundtable (BRT), an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies. The group claims that excessive regulation is hampering economic growth and recovery in the job market.

BRT cites an October 2011 Gallup poll of U.S. small business owners that found that complying with government regulation is the most “important problem” facing small businesses today – more than low consumer confidence or lack of consumer demand. i

A number of health and occupational safety and health-related regulations are among those cited by BRT has possibly imposing significant costs on the economy and unnecessary burdens on business:

Preliminary remediation goals for dioxin

EPA’s interim Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRG) for dioxin remain under review by OMB while EPA prepares to finalize its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) human health risk reassessment on dioxin, responding to concerns raised by the National Academy of Science in 2006. The EPA IRIS program will issue the reassessment in piecemeal fashion, with the non-cancer portion of the reassessment having been released in February 2012 and the cancer portion to be released at an unspecified time thereafter. This reassessment may be used to develop a final PRG. It is unclear whether EPA will issue its interim PRG given the possibility of issuing a final PRG this year.

EPA chemical action plans

Thus far, EPA has issued chemical action plans for ten groups of chemicals. EPA also recently launched an initiative to identify priority chemicals for review, assessment and possible risk management action.

The BRT criticizes the proposed prioritization process for not being as risk-based or as transparent as it should be. "There is also concern with the criteria EPA is using to evaluate chemicals for listing under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5(b)(4)."

Lead, Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program for Public and Commercial Buildings

EPA intends to regulate the renovation, repair and painting of the public and commercial buildings under section 402(c)(3) of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Requirements will include lead-safe work practices and other requirements for renovation of the exteriors of public and commercial buildings.

EPA assessment of chemical risk

The BRT notes that both the National Academy of Science and Congress have recommended that the EPA should reform its Integrated Risk Information system (IRIS) -- which develops estimates of chemical risk used both by EPA and state environmental agencies to set regulatory standards.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, however, has accused Congress of taking its direction on science and environmental health policy from the chemical industry, rather than from independent scientists with no financial stake in the safety of the chemicals being regulated.

CBI protection for chemical identities of new chemicals

EPA has proposed to eliminate most confidential business information (CBI) protection for the chemical identities of new chemicals. "The lack of protection for trade secrets can be counterproductive by inhibiting innovations," notes the BRT.

Occupational exposure to crystalline silica

OSHA has indicated its intention to propose tighter exposure, monitoring, medical surveillance and worker training standards for workers exposed to crystalline silica.

Motor carrier safety fitness determination

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is expected to propose new safety fitness determinations based on safety from crashes, inspections and violation history rather than standard compliance review. The goal is to enable FMCSA to assess the safety performance of a greater segment of the motor carrier industry. A proposed rule is expected in 2012.

Minimum training requirements for entry level commercial motor vehicle operations

Rulemaking would require behind-the-wheel and classroom training for persons who must hold a commercial driver’s license to operate commercial motor vehicles. A final rule is expected in 2012.

OSHA-proposed musculo-skeletal rule

OSHA has proposed adding to its record-keeping requirements concerning occupational injuries for employers an additional category of musculo-skeletal disorders.

"Because the definition and diagnosis of such injuries or illnesses is so vague and indeterminate, this requirement could impose considerable cost and burden on employers, particularly small businesses, and create unwarranted exposure for non-compliance based on subjective assessments," says the BRT.

The group also took aim at the Dodd-Frank Act, which was enacted after risky financial products marketed by the financial industry triggered -- at least in part -- the recession. The bill was aimed at tightening regulations on the financial industry.

The BRT objects to the bill's limit on proprietary trading by banks. "It will introduce new complexities and impose higher costs for businesses while slowing down the creation of new markets," says the BRT.