OSHA is about to overhaul several outdated regulations and align some of its standards with those administered by other agencies. The rule, which will soon be published in the Federal Register, is expected to save employers $43 million and significantly reduce time spent processing paperwork by 1.85 million hours annually. It will become effective on July 8, 2011.
This initiative to update and standardize regulations is the result of President Barak Obama’s executive order of January 18, 2011 to simplify and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens. In this order, President Obama stated,
Our regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation. It must be based on the best available science. It must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. It must promote predictability and reduce uncertainty. It must identify and use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. It must take into account benefits and costs, both quantitative and qualitative. It must ensure that regulations are accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand. It must measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements.
Following are some of the changes that will result from OSHA’s new rule:
- Employers will no longer have to prepare and maintain written training certification records for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), although OSHA continues to believe that worker training on the proper use of PPE is essential to ensure it effectiveness. OSHA is not deleting any requirement that employers train workers appropriately in the use of PPE.
- Employers will no longer be required to transmit exposure and medical records to NIOSH, which is expected to significantly reduce costs to store and maintain the records. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), these records did not serve a useful research purpose.
- The definition of the term “potable water” will be updated to be consistent with the current Environmental Protection Agency standards instead of the former and outdated Public Health Service Corps definition. Potable water is water of sufficiently high quality that can be consumed or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm. The EPA sets standards for tap and public water systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
- Hand dryers will no longer be required to use warm air, because new technology, such as high-velocity air blowers, allows hand-drying products that do not involve hot or warm air.
- Regulations regarding slings remove previous load-capacity tables, and employers must now use slings with permanently affixed identification markings that depict the maximum load capacity.
- Existing respiratory protection standards will be aligned with the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, clarifying that aftermarket cylinders meet National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health quality assurance requirements.
Because there are no new requirements as a result of this rule, employers will be able to comply with it immediately.
To read OSHA’s press release, click on http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=19905 and to read OSHA’s Final Rule, click on http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-08/html/2011-13517.htm.