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Auditing as a Tool for Ensuring Compliance with Nanotechnology Safety Requirements
Volume 5, Issue 4

Paul C. Sarahan, Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.

Nanotechnology companies are subject to federal and state occupational safety and health regulations. Under these regulations, an employer must assess potential workplace risks, and develop practices and procedures designed to address any identified risks. The assessment of potential risks related to an employee’s exposure to nanomaterials is made more difficult by the relative scarcity of information regarding how specific nanomaterials act and react in the workplace. Nanotechnology companies should consider using applicable federal and state audit policies and statutes to conduct these assessments. Under these policies and statutes, nanotechnology companies may be able to perform voluntary self-audits without incurring penalty liability. An evidentiary privilege may also be available to protect from future disclosure information gathered in the course of a voluntary self-audit. There is no universal audit strategy that is best for all companies; instead, companies must take care, based upon their own objectives and sensitivities, to decide exactly what to audit, and to ensure that the correct measures are taken so that the audit falls within any intended safe-harbors. States looking to spur commercial development of nanotechnology may consider enacting an audit statute that can be used by companies to develop further information regarding specific nanomaterials and how they act and react in the workplace.

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