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OSHA to Streamline, Update Regs

Friday, May 27, 2011

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it will lighten the regulatory load on employers with a comprehensive new rule that streamlines and simplifies the agency’s standards.

The new rule, to be published soon in the Federal Register, will maintain employee protection while saving employers $43 million and 1.9 million hours of paperwork each year, said Dr. David Michaels, the OSHA administrator. 

OSHA’s new rules will include changes to the current respiratory standards.

The new rule will contain no requirements, so employers will be able to comply immediately, according to OSHA.

Respiratory Changes

The new rule will result in several changes to OSHA’s respiratory protection standard, including:

  • Aligning air cylinder testing requirements for self-contained breathing apparatuses with U.S. Department of Transportation regulations;
  • Clarifying that aftermarket cylinders meet National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) quality assurance requirements; and
  • Clarifying that the provisions of Appendix D, which contains information for employees using respirators when not required under the standard, are mandatory if the employee chooses to use a respirator.

Hazard Labeling, Record-Keeping

OSHA also plans to harmonize U.S. hazard classifications and labels with those used by other nations, which is expected to save employers about $585 million a year on average.

Other changes will delete a number of requirements for employers to transmit exposure and medical records to NIOSH, thus saving NIOSH significant cost to store and maintain the records.  According to NIOSH, these records did not serve a useful research purpose.

The slings standards also will be updated and streamlined by requiring that employers use only slings marked with manufacturers’ loading information.

Other Changes

A variety of other changes include:

  • Updating the definition of “potable water” to be consistent with the current Environmental Protection Agency standards;
  • Removing the outdated requirement that hand dryers use warm air, because new technology allows employers to use hand-drying products that do not involve hot or warm air: and
  • Removing two medical record requirements from the commercial-diving standard because that standard no longer requires medical examinations.

The changes are based an agency review, public comments, and recommendations from an Office of Management and Budget report, OSHA said.

Regulatory Review

The new rule will conclude the third phase of OSHA’s Standards Improvement Project (SIP-III), an agency initiative that periodically reviews regulations for confusing language, outdated requirements, or duplicative and inconsistent provisions. SIP-I was published in 1998; SIP-II, in 2005.

The rule will also dovetail with the goals of President Obama’s Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” issued Jan. 18, mandating federal agencies to simplify their standards and reduce regulatory burdens.

The changes “will help keep OSHA standards up to date and better enable employers to comply with their regulatory obligations,” the agency said.


Tagged categories: EPA; Health and safety; NIOSH; OSHA; Personal protective equipment; Regulations; Respiratory Protection Standard

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (5/31/2011, 11:39 AM)

OSHA standards (and their website) could use a LOT more simplification and ease-of-use.

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