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College of Engineering

Laws & Regulations

The industries in which Engineers work are highly regulated. You may frequently need to refer to federal and state laws and regulations.

A couple of definitions:

  • LAWS originate from legislation in Congress or in the state legislature.
  • REGULATIONS are developed by regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the Food & Drug Administration.

Nexis Uni is research database and a good place to start your legal research. If you have a citation to a legal case just type the information in the search box. A legal case citation will look something like this: 163 U.S. 537 or Mapp v. Ohio.

The US government has several websites for access to federal laws and regulations. (Your tax dollars at work!)

Some key legal publications:

  • Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) or eCFR
    Regulations of all federal agencies. Title 40, Protection of the Environment, covers EPA. Title 29, Labor, covers OSHA. Title 46, Transportation. Also available on LexisNexis.
  • Federal Register
    Daily publication. Updates the CFR, announces proposed regulations.
  • Congressional Record
    Daily publication. Documents everything done in Congress, e.g., speeches, bills introduced.
  • U.S. Code
    Text of all U.S. laws.

Many of the laws and regulations impacting the chemical industry are connected to the enviroment. For information on major environmental legislation:

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

Engineers probably use the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) more than any other legal publication. The CFR is a collection of regulations from the federal regulatory agencies: EPA, OSHA, Department of Transportation, etc.

The CFR is organized into TITLES. In legal publications like the CFR "titles" can be thought of as subject categories. For example, Title 29 of the CFR covers LABOR. It has regulations from the Department of Labor. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is part of the Department of Labor so many health and safety regulations are included in Title 29.

You can search the CFR for regulations on your topic. This is very easy to do as the entire text is freely available online. Go to eCFR; look for the SEARCH link in the left column.

Sometimes you will have a citation to a specific CFR section. A typical CFR citation looks like this:

29 CFR 1910.1001

You're looking for section 1910.1001 in Title 29 of the CFR. It's a regulation for asbestos exposure in the workplace. To find the regulation, go to eCFR. Select Title 29 - Labor as shown here:

CFR browse screen

When you get to the Title 29 screen, look for the link that will include section 1910.1001.

Remember, you can also search the CFR for more information about asbestos exposure or any other topic.

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